Gilas Pilipinas faced Indonesia for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers earlier today at the Angeles University Foundation Gym. The Filipino squad successfully continued its winning streak. Coming off its win against South Korea two days ago, the team prevailed 76-51 against the Indonesian team who hoped to garner their second win.
The opposing squad’s head coach, Rajko Toroman, is not new to the Philippine shores as he formerly led the national team from 2009 to 2011. Before coaching for Indonesia, he also formerly mentored the Petron Blaze Boosters, before ending his stint with the Philippines in 2013 by coaching for Barako Bull Energy. Another familiar face on the court was Lester Prosper, former player for the Columbian Dyip (now Terrafirma Dyip) and the San Miguel Beermen.
The Gilas Pilipinas team made sure to change their game plan after the slow-paced first quarter against South Korea. Though losing the jump ball, Justine Baltazar made his presence known with the opening shot of the game. However, the combined points from Andakara Dhyaksa’s three-pointer and Lester Proper’s free throw lifted the Indonesian team to an early 4-2 lead at the 6’ mark of the first quarter. At this point, it was still anyone’s game, but Gilas somehow stopped the bleeding by getting ahead with five consecutive makes to give the Philippines an 11-point lead. Indonesia, on the other hand, got back on their feet through the driving layup of Prosper followed by a three-pointer and subsequent free throws by Abraham Grahita which capped off the first quarter, 15-11.
Approaching the second quarter, Coach Tab Baldwin cruised the game with a more aggressive play-by-play, utilizing the openings and shutting down Prosper, who had taken matters into his own hands, willfully carrying the Indonesian team. Even though Gilas came alive in the second quarter, the game was still undecided as Indonesia continued to pose problems for the national team. It was Dwight Ramos taking command of the leg, bagging six points and five rebounds in the quarter alone. Gilas, collectively able to control Prosper and Grahita, was the tone-setter of the game. The Philippine team limiting Prosper to six points motivated Toroman to make a lineup change with the hopes that the role players would have enough firepower to close the lead. Juan Kokodiputra and Agassi Goantara both contributed to Prosper’s dominance as they dialed down the lead to eight, 30-22.
To start the second half, Indonesia managed to keep Gilas within its reach after a three-pointer from Goantara cut the deficit to four, 35-31. Baltazar continued his shooting prowess, however, as he answered with back-to-back three-pointers to extend Gilas’ lead to 40-31.
As Indonesia struggled to shoot from the paint, Gilas capitalized on this with a 16-0 run led by the defensive efforts of Ramos who recorded a game-high three steals. Dhyaksa managed to break the scoreless spell of Indonesia at the one-minute mark of the third quarter with a three-point shot of his own but was immediately countered by Angelo Kouame’s fast-break dunk to build Gilas a 15-point cushion, 51-36, heading into the final minutes of the quarter.
The Philippines continued their hot shooting from the three-point territory with Carl Tamayo’s back-to-back three-pointers at the eight-minute mark in the fourth frame, 59-38, after a strong 10-point display last game against South Korea. Gilas’ overwhelming defense in the paint led by Kai Sotto and Kouame controlled Indonesia’s main offensive option Prosper, who did not get as many touches in the first half.
The Philippines continued to overpower the paint against Indonesia, with most of their points coming from offensive rebounds and second chance points, forcing Prosper to put up midrange jumpers and post-up shots to pull the score 70-49 with three minutes left in the game.
However, Prosper’s efforts were not enough as the Philippines carried their lead up to the final frame, ending with Javi Gomez de Liano making a bank shot, 76-51.
In a valiant but losing effort, Prosper held a game-high 22 points to go along with eight rebounds, shooting 52.9 percent from the field while Dhyaksa and Abraham Grahita both scored eight points for their team.
Now sporting a 5-0 standing in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers, Baltazar and Kouame carried the scoring for the game as both players tallied 11 points. Ramos once again showed his efficiency on both sides of the court, recording a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds. Furthermore, 18-year-old LeBron Lopez contributed eight points in his Gilas debut, while 7’3” phenom Sotto bagged seven points and seven rebounds.
“We came out of halftime with a different attitude towards one another and [that is] what we’ve been working for. We played much better,” said coach Baldwin. He also shared that the team is still “not there yet” in terms of being able to play with tempo and discipline but is certain that the team will improve because of their first half’s lacking performance.
Gilas Pilipinas will be back to play South Korea again on Sunday, June 20, 3 pm.
Philippines – Baltazar 11, Kouame 11, Ramos 10, Abarrientos 9, Lopez 8, Sotto 7, Tamayo 6, Chiu 4, Gomez de Liano 4, Belangel 3, Heading 3
Indonesia – Prosper 22, Dhyaksa 8, Grahita 8, Goantara 6, Wisnu 4, Kokodiputra 3
Quarter scores: 15-11, 30-22, 51-36, 76-51