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Gilas whips Russians

GILAS Pilipinas played its best game in the William Jones Cup so far, bouncing back from a sorry loss to bitter rival South Korea to hammer an impressive 85-71 victory over Russian team Spartak in a highly physical and a near free-for-all contest yesterday at the Xinchuang Gymnasium in Taipei.

Unlike its performance against South Korea, Smart Gilas showed poise as it refused to be bullied by the taller Spartak team, which was undefeated going into the match.

The win gave the nationals their second win in three games, while the Russians fell to 3-1.

For the third straight game, Terrence Romeo, who was involved in a heated confrontation in the first period, was an unstoppable force for the Philippines, scoring 11 points in an array of drives and jumpers, while Ranidel De Ocampo led in scoring with a team-high 13 points.

Calvin Abueva also made his presence felt again with a near double-double of 10 points and eight rebounds before fouling out late in the game.

Romeo, De Ocampo and Abueva also drew some needed support as practically everybody on the floor contributed to the win, with Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Moala Tautuaa adding 10 points each and the rest providing hustle and energy on defense.

‘’Everybody stepped up and contributed for us,’’ said Gilas coach Tab Baldwin. ‘’What I liked most was that we played our roles well.’’

The Philippines held its ground in the first half despite the very physical play employed by Spartak to take a 43-40 lead at the intermission.

From there, the nationals banked on an 18-8 run in the third to seize control and build a  sizeable 61-48 advantage late in the third quarter. That lead was never challenged.

The Russians tried to put one  more run and were able to slice the Philippines’ lead to only eight, 73-65, with under five minutes left.

But Gilas Pilipinas came through this time as De Ocampo and Hontiveros knocked down back-to-back triples to ignite a 10-0 finishing kick  to hand the Nationals an 83-65 spread en route to the win.

The largest lead for Gilas stood was at 18 points, 83-65, with under 30 seconds remaining.

It was an intense tussle as both squads played physical, leading to several confrontations in the opening period.

Romeo, as the quarter winds down, was hit by a forearm by Russia’s point guard, drawing the ire of the Filipino guard.

But as cooler heads tried to separate the two, Russia’s center suddenly threw the ball on the Gilas star’s face and immediately drew a technical foul. Romeo split his charities after

Prior to that, Sonny Thoss was forced to leave the game after sustaining a nasty cut in his head after taking an elbow from one of the Russian players.        

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