Gilas stand vs hot-shooting Turkey falls short in friendly before Olympic qualifiers

Delfin Dioquino

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Gilas stand vs hot-shooting Turkey falls short in friendly before Olympic qualifiers

ANTICIPATE. June Mar Fajardo (99) and Justin Brownlee (00) of Gilas Pilipinas look on as Tarik Biberovic of Turkey dribbles during a tuneup game.

Turkish Basketball Federation Facebook page

Even without its NBA players, Turkey leans on its deadly long-range game to keep at bay a Gilas Pilipinas side gearing up for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas fell to hot-shooting Turkiye (Turkey), 84-73, in the first of its two friendly games before the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Thursday, June 27 (Friday, June 28, Manila time).

Even without NBA players Cedi Osman and Alperen Sengun, the Turkish leaned on their deadly long-range game and knocked down 14 three-pointers to keep the visiting Filipinos at bay and protect their homecourt in Istanbul.

Small forward Tarik Biberovic showed the way for world No. 24 Turkey with a game-high 23 points, including a triple with under a minute remaining that essentially shut the door on the Philippines’ comeback attempt.

Justin Brownlee (21 points and 5 rebounds) and June Mar Fajardo (17 points and 11 rebounds) did most of the heavy lifting for the Filipinos as they shared the offensive load in the fourth quarter to keep their side afloat.

A Fajardo jump shot and a Brownlee dunk cut the Philippines’ deficit to 73-78 before Biberovic – a 23-year-old who got picked 56th overall in the NBA Draft last year – hit his fifth and final trey to give the hosts an eight-point lead.

Sertac Sanli joined the three-point party inside the final 20 seconds for good measure as the Turkish won by double figures after having Gilas Pilipinas breathing down their necks the entire game.

Point guard Can Korkmaz backstopped Biberovic with 12 points as he took over in the third period, unloading 10 points in the quarter to help Turkey mount a 64-56 advantage.

Carl Tamayo chimed in 9 points in the loss, while Kai Sotto put up 7 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds before he fouled out with 2:35 minutes remaining.

Sotto struggled with foul trouble, even committing an unsportsmanlike foul in the third quarter that resulted in a five-point Turkey swing, with Korkmaz draining a pair of free throws and a triple in succession for a 55-47 cushion.

The Filipinos kept fighting back and got within striking distance multiple times, although the hosts held their nerve much to the delight of former NBA veteran and Turkish Basketball Federation president Hedo Turkoglu.

Dwight Ramos tallied 4 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists in the defeat.

Up next for Gilas Pilipinas is another tuneup match against world No. 15 Poland on Saturday, June 29 (Sunday, June 30, Manila time), before it heads to Riga, Latvia, for the OQT that will run from July 2 to 7.

The pair of friendly games are meant to get the Philippines ready for the stiff competition that awaits in the OQT, where it will face world No. 6 Latvia and No. 23 Georgia.

The Scores

Turkey 84 – Biberovic 23, Korkmaz 12, Sipahi 9, Sanli 9, Osmani 8, Ozdemiroglu 7, Haltali 6, Yilmaz 3, Kabaca 3, Yasar 2, Bas 2, Ilyasoglu 0, Ulubay 0.

Philippines 73 – Brownlee 21, Fajardo 17, Tamayo 9, Sotto 7, Ramos 4, Aguilar 4, Oftana 3, Perez 3, Newsome 3, Quiambao 2, Amos.

Quarters: 24-21, 42-40, 64-56, 84-73.


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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.