Ageless wonders Taulava, Hontiveros complete Gilas comeback win over New Zealand

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines men’s national basketball team rallied from a 16-point deficit in the second half and sealed a victory against the Wellington Saints from New Zealand in overtime, 92-88, on Friday, September 4, at the Xinchuang Gymnasium in Taipei. 

The win improved the national squad’s record in the 37th William Jones Cup to 4-2, with two more games remaining in their schedule.

Dondon Hontiveros, 38, hit 3 3-pointers in overtime to force New Zealand against the wall, totaling 11 points in the period to finish with 21 overall. Asi Taulava, 42, sparked a third quarter comeback for Gilas and finished with 12 points and 6 rebounds.

Trailing big in the third period, Gilas needed a jolt of energy and Taulava provided it by registering 6 big points in the paint down the stretch of the quarter that gave the national squad some momentum heading into the final 10 minutes of the contest.

New Zealand went ahead 76-72 with a little under two minutes to go in the game, but big-time shots by Taulava and Jayson Castro tied the match with 42 seconds remaining. After Bryan Davis put his club back on top by two, Castro scored another layup to tie the game at 78, eventually leading to overtime.

In the extra 5-minute session, Hontiveros took over with his 3 huge 3-pointers - the last one putting Gilas on top 87-84 with 1:20 to go. After Castro and Wellington guard Eric Devendorf took turns putting up two points on the scoreboard, Taulava eventually sealed the win on an open layup coming from a nice Marc Pingris bounce pass.

The victory improved the national squad’s record in the 37th William Jones Cup to 4-2, with two more games remaining in their schedule. Up next on their plate is USA Overtake-Select, which, as of posting time, has won only twice in 5 games.

The Saints, who received 44 free throws to Gilas’ 15, fell to 2-4.

Davis led New Zealand with 31 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 steals, while Castro put up 22 points and 6 assists for the Philippine team.

Terrence Romeo, JC Intal, and Ranidel De Ocampo all missed the game for Gilas. – Rappler.com