Blatche-less Kash­gar rips Chooks-PH

Tempo - - Front Page - By JONAS TERRADO

Chooks To Go Pilip­inas gave de­fend­ing cham­pion China Kash­gar ev­ery­thing it can be­fore run­ning out of steam in the sec­ond half to suf­fer an 86-70 quar­ter­fi­nal loss Thurs­day that ended its ti­tle chances in the FIBA Asia Cham­pi­ons Cup at the Chen­zhou Sports Cen­ter in Chen­zhou, China.

The Filipino squad made the game tight in the first half, even ty­ing the score at 39-all against the fan­cied Chi­nese Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion cham­pi­ons that played with­out Gi­las Pilip­inas nat­u­ral­ized player An­dray Blatche.

But de­fen­sive lapses al­lowed China Kash­gar, also known as the Xin­jiang Fly­ing Tigers, to take a 45-39 half­time lead when Mugedaer Xireljiang drained a triple and Dar­ius Adams hit­ting a buzzer-beat­ing three from the right el­bow that vir­tu­ally crushed Chooks To Go’s mo­men­tum.

China Kash­gar took com­mand of the sec­ond half, build­ing a 21-point lead that Chooks To Go never re­cov­ered.

“Proud of the guys’ ef­fort, pero hang­gang doon lang ta­laga,” tweeted Chooks To Go coach Chot Reyes min­utes af­ter the loss.

The loss rel­e­gated Chooks To Go to the clas­si­fi­ca­tion round for fifth to eighth places. It was play­ing Shabab Al-Ahli of United Arab Emi­rates at presstime. The win­ner meets ei­ther the Taipei Dacin Tigers of Thai­land’s Mono Vam­pire for fifth place.

Seven-foot-one im­port Isa­iah Austin had 16 points and 11 re­bounds for Chooks To Go, but never got a chance to face Blatche in what could have been a matchup be­tween pos­si­bly the past and fu­ture nat­u­ral­ized cagers of Gi­las.

Blatche, who watched the game on the China Kash­gar bench in street clothes, later told Sports5 that he couldn’t see him­self play­ing against their Filipino op­po­nents.

“I can’t play against my Filipino peo­ple,” said Blatche, who joined the Chooks To Go hud­dle af­ter the game.

Kiefer Ravena had 16 points and three as­sists while Carl Bryan Cruz scored 10 points but went 1-of-10 from three-point coun­try.

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