Boomers send Gilas crashing in Melbourne
AUSTRALIA kept its unblemished record in group play of the FIBA Asian World Cup Qualifiers yesterday, defeating Gilas Pilipinas, 84-68, in their battle of unbeaten teams at the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne.
Greatly challenged in the opening half, the Boomers proved themselves steady in the second fold of the match and out- sprinted Gilas to notch the victory, their third in as many games in Group B of the qualifiers, while sending the Philippines ( 2-1) to its first defeat in the tournament.
Australia got the scoring going early, outscoring the Philippines, 5-0, in the first two minutes of the opening quarter.
Gilas though would retaliate with five straight points after with Matthew Wright and Gabe Norwood conspiring.
The two teams went back and forth the rest of the way, making runs and counter-runs, finishing the frame leveled at 19-all.
In the second period it was Gilas’ turn to jump-start things, with June Mar Fajardo getting it going.
The Philippines held a fivepoint cushion, 30-25, at the 5:03 mark of the period.
But Australia did not stay down for long as it began to make its move back.
It retook the lead, 31-30, with 3: 26 remaining on a basket by forward Mitchell Creek before outgunning the Philippines for the remainder of the half, 6-2, to build a 37- 32 advantage by the halftime break.
Action picked up to start the third canto as both teams had their guns firing.
They fought to a 42-39 count with Australia on top with 7:48 on the clock.
Gilas’ offense, however, tapered off which the home team capitalized on as it built a 10-point gap, 5444, at the 3:11 mark of the quarter.
Mr. Fajardo scored back- toback baskets to pull the Philippines to within six points, 54-48.
It was the closest Gilas would come at that point as the Boomers pushed the gas as the frame wound up to extend their lead to 14 points, 63- 49, heading into the final 10 minutes of the contest.
Sensing that the momentum was now on their side, the Boomers went for the kill to begin the fourth, going on a 7- 0 run to establish their biggest lead of 21 points, 70-49, with over eight minutes remaining.
Gilas continued to fight amid the onslaught of Australia, coming within 14 points twice, 77-63 and 79-65.
The Boomers though would stay steady thereafter and went on to roll to the victory.
Cameron Gliddon led Australia with 16 points followed by Mr. Creek and naturalized player Kevin Lisch with 12 points apiece.
Mr. Fajardo, meanwhile, paced Gilas with 15 points with Mr. Wright adding nine.
Andray Blatche had a strong first half but fizzled out in the second to finish with eight points and seven rebounds.
Despite the loss, the Philippine still remains in second place in the standings in Group B behind Australia.
Japan and Chinese Taipei, which were to battle also yesterday, remained winless in the group.
In the Asian Qualifiers, 16 teams have been divided into four groups to determine the top seven teams joining World Cup host China as representatives of Asia/Oceania at the 32-field Basketball World Cup happening in August 2019.
Gilas Pilipinas next plays on Sunday against Japan at the Mall of Asia Arena at 7 p.m.