Gilas Pilipinas 68 – Australia 84
Gilas Pilipinas was able to stick with the big and burly Australian team early in the game. Unfortunately, they lost steam in the second half as Australia brought the hammer in the second half to hand them their first loss in the FIBA Asian Qualifiers.
Austrialia went to their advantage early in the game as they focused on pounding the ball inside. They took an early lead in the opening minutes of the game. But Gilas didn’t allow them to pull away. Matthew Wright led the comeback for the Philippines as they stayed within striking distance of the Australians. Gilas matched Australia’s inside attack with a balanced effort on the offensive end. Andray Blatche got it on early, hitting a three-pointer and a hook shot inside to give Gilas their first lead of the game.
Bolstered by the fact that they were keeping in step with Australia, Gilas turned on the fire power in the early goings of the second quarter. They held a lead for the first half of the second period as Kevin Alas and Blatche bravely scored in the paint. Gilas took their biggest lead of the game, at five points when Kiefer Ravena and June Mar Fajardo ran the pick and roll perfectly.
Unfortunately, that was the last time Gilas would taste the lead. Australia went on a searing 12-2 run in the final minutes of the first half to take a 37-32 lead heading into halftime.
Gilas tried to get back in the game to start the third period. Japeth Aguilar provided a highlight-worthy putback jam and Ravena got a steal for a fast break layup. That cut the lead to just three-points, 44-41. But Australia was running their offense too well. They increased that lead to 10-point with a balanced mix of outside shooting and points in the paint.
In the fourth quarter, Australia dropped an 13-1 run as they took a commanding 21-point lead. Fajardo did his best to try to get Gilas within striking distance heading into the final minutes of the game but Australia was just too dominant.
Fajardo led the team in scoring with 15 points. He was the only Filipino to score in double-digits. Blatche had eight points and seven rebounds. Wright added nine points but hit only one three-pointer.
The Philippines shot a clean 43.8% but their free throw shooting and three-point shooting doomed them. They hit only five treys in 19 tries. Gilas also missed 12 of their 19 freebies.
Gilas will try to salvage a win in the second window when they face Japan in the MOA Arena on Sunday.