By: Bong Paredes /@hoopslocale
Filipino basketball fans all over the world were keen to see how this young (Rey Suerte being the oldest at 26) team will fare without having a single PBA or Naturalized player on the roster. Thailand also had challenges of their own, having only 10 players at their disposal. They were also without their best player, Tyler Lamb and head coach Chris Daleo.
Thailand started the game with a match-up zone that confused the young Gilas squad early. The Thais also had the corner three available for them all quarter long, and they were hitting it at a high rate. Top center Chanatip Jakrawan (5 points and 6 rebounds) looked to take advantage of the younger Philippine team and he had some success early, but Gilas’ swarming defense made things tougher for him as the game went on.
At the end of the first quarter (21-19 in favor of Gilas), it wasn’t clear if the Thai’s experience will keep Gilas close or if the upstart Filipinos will extend their narrow lead. Jakrawan was aggressive once more to start the 2nd quarter, but Gilas launched a barrage of baskets by forcing multiple turnovers with their trapping defense. Dwight Ramos, Juan Gomez De Liano, and Justine Baltazar were at the forefront, but everyone contributed in their own way. By the time the second quarter ended, Gilas was ahead by 24 points (53-27).
It only got worse for the Thai’s in the second half where Gilas led by as much as 36 at one point (71-35 at the 1:50 mark of the third). Gilas took the fight out of the Thais with a torrent of three pointers and transition baskets. Final score was 93-61 with the game already decided at halftime.
Dwight Ramos led the team with 20 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals and was also perfect from the field (7 out of 7), from three (2 out of 2) and from the line (4 out of 4). Juan Gomez De Liano was also splendid with 12 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists, while Justine Baltazar showed his versatility with 12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block.
Gilas Pilipinas will play the same Thailand team on Monday, November 30.