France needed the might of Nando de Colo and Tony Parker to slip past Gilas Pilipinas, 93-84, and move closer to the semifinals of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament Tuesday night at the jampacked Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Egged on by a wild and roaring home crowd, the Nationals zoomed to a 28-18 lead in the first quarter behind the exploits of Andray Blatche and Terrence Romeo.
But De Colo and Parker, who teamed up when San Antonio reached the NBA Finals in 2013, took turns in punishing Gilas’s defense in the third quarter, as Les Bleus erected several double-digit spreads.
Leading 77-66 entering the final period, France got a huge scare as the Philippines went on a searing run, with the home team trimming it to 85-81 off a Gabe Norwood tip-in with under 4 minutes left.
That proved to be Gilas’s last hurrah, however, as subsequent baskets from Boris Diaw and Kim Tillie took the wind off them.
With the win, Les Bleus will only need one more win or a Philippines loss to New Zealand to advance to the Final Four. — By Josiah Albelda