Gilas Pilipinas scores vengeful win over China to start FIBA-Asia Cup
The Philippines' Terrence Romeo, right, challenges for the ball against China players Hu Jinqiu, center, and Guo Ailun, left, during the FIBA Asia Cup 2017, at Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex, in Zouk Mosbeh north of Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
It was sweet revenge two years in the making.
Despite limited preparation, Gilas Pilipinas opened group play in the 2017 FIBA-Asia Cup Wednesday with a big one, scoring a pulsating 96-87 victory over defending champion China at the Nouhad Nawfal Stadium in Lebanon.
Losing its 17-point lead in the middle of the fourth quarter, Gilas had to rely on its best offensive weapon in Terrence Romeo to break through.
The Bro did not disappoint though as Romeo scored a booming three to tie things up at 87-all with 3:55 to go.
Gilas would regain the lead for good inside the final three minutes as Romeo hit a difficult fadeaway near the free throw line. And then, with 2:12 to go, the brash and confident Globalport star channeled his inner Jimmy Alapag to bury a deep triple to hand the Philippines a 92-87 lead.
Jayson Castro would later find Christian Standhardinger for the dagger layup as Gilas, ranked third in Asia by FIBA, avenged its 2015 Finals loss to China, the undisputed Asian no. 1.
Romeo led the Philippines in scoring, pouring 26 points off the bench on top of four assists and a steal. Fil-German Christian Standhardinger, considered a naturalized player by FIBA, started and came away with 15 points and six boards.
Castro was the stabilizing presence of the red-hot Gilas offense as the Blur added 13 points, thee rebounds, and seven assists.
As a team, Gilas shot 58 percent from two-point range and was an incredible 59 percent from deep. This is the first win by the Philippines over China since the bronze medal game of the 2014 FIBA-Asia Cup.
Despite barely two weeks of practice, the Philippines came out firing against its Asian rivals, scoring the game's first seven points.
Taking advantage of China's penalty situation, Gilas Pilipinas took a 53-39 lead at the break.
However, China would respond in the second half, hitting seven triples in the third period to close the gap, 70-76, heading into the final 10 minutes.
Guo Ailun, China's young star guard and Castro's backcourt partner in the All-Star team from the 2015 FIBA-Asia Championships, spearheaded the Great Wall in the fourth.
The 23-year-old star bucked his four personal fouls, all committed in the first half, to power China to the lead for the first time all game, 83-82, with 5:45 to go.
Guo finished with 18 points and five assists to lead the defending champions while Zhou Peng added 17.
However, he would foul out just a minute later as Romeo's takeover was taking shape.
Now 1-0 in Group B, the Philippines will take on Iraq next on Friday.
Philippines (96) --- Romeo 26, Standhardinger 15, Castro 13, Wright 12, Pogoy 9, Almazan 9, Aguilar 7, Norwood 3, Abueva 2, Cruz 0, Jalalon 0, Fajardo 0.
China (87) --- Guo 18, Zhou 17, Hu 13, Li G. 11, Liu 9, Wu 6, Han 4, Ren 4, Gu 3, Yu 2, Zeng 0, Li M. 0
Quarterscores: 26-16, 53-39, 76-70, 96-87
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