In their last game on home floor less than a week before they open their campaign in the FIBA World Cup 2019, Gilas Pilipinas got a flavor of tough and physical pressure defense as they were defeated by the Adelaide 36ers, 75-85.
The game may have provided a preview of the final lineup which will be announced tomorrow as Beau Belga and the injured Matthew Wright and Poy Eram did not suit up.
Coach Yeng Guiao started with a tall lineup by fielding in Andray Blatche, Raymond Almazan, Troy Rosario, CJ Perez, and Mark Barroca. This experiment did not pay off as the 36ers’ crisp ball movement led to open threes from the visitors. The Australian club, which is reinforced by three American imports who all have played in the NBA Summer League, was also humming in transition as they raced to a 17-11. Back-to-back threes from Kevin White and Jack McVeigh allowed Adelaide to extend their lead to 29-13 at the end of the 1st quarter.
Kiefer Ravena made his first appearance towards the end of the 1st quarter but started making his presence felt in the 2nd quarter as he scored five straight points to keep Adelaide from blowing the game wide open. The 36ers held the Filipinos at bay with their three point shooting, connecting on 9-out-of-20 attempts for a 45% clip while limiting Gilas Pilipinas to only six out of 23 or (26 percent) from rainbow territory.
Gilas Pilipinas seemed to have found an extra bounce in their step in the 3rd quarter which opened with a Japeth Aguilar slam to cut the deficit to 12, 32-44. However, the 36ers full-court pressure defense would eventually render the Gilas offensive ineffective as they continued to miss from outside. A reverse lay-up by Obi Key saw the lead of the Australians balloon to 21 points, 65-44 in the closing minutes of the 3rd quarter.
The fourth quarter was more of the same as the Filipinos struggled to eat into the lead of the 36ers. Gilas Pilipinas showed some fight in the final six minutes of the ballgame to make the score respectable. A June Mar Fajardo three-point play and a Robert Bolick four-point play narrowed the deficit to 12 points. A three-point conversion from Blatche inside two minutes further incited hope among the Filipino crowd in attendance as Gilas Pilipinas threatened to catch up, 72-80. But a three pointer by former Arizona Wildcat Daniel Dillon doused cold water on the Gilas rally as the Australians held on to an 85-75 win.
Coach Guiao said he was still happy with the team’s performance despite the result.
“Even if we lost this game, we felt that there were a lot of positives that we could take with us. We were able to simulate the kind of intensity and pressure defense that other teams might apply against us. It is going to help us get better prepared for China,” said Coach Guiao.
The final 12-men line-up of Gilas Pilipinas will be announced by the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP). Coach Guiao’s boys will take a break on Monday before resuming practices on Tuesday. They will fly to China on Thursday, August 29, two days before they play their first game against Italy on Saturday.