After leading by double digits early in the game, Gilas Pilipinas fell to France, 93-84, in the second game of the opening day of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
With a 20,000 capacity crowd behind them, the Filipinos started the game with guns ablaze as 14 points from naturalized center Andray Blatche and outside sniping from Chan, Castro and Romeo saw them lead by as much as 10 points, 28-18, at the 1:07 mark of the first period. Gilas would continue to lead until the second quarter where ‘LesBleus’ went on a 14-2 run capped by two Tony Parker free throws with six seconds left in the period to put the Europeans up by four, 45-41. Terrence Romeo, however, countered with a buzzer beating jumper to settle the final score at halftime, 45-43.
Blatche led Gilas at halftime with 14 points and four rebounds while Jayson Castro William chipped in nine points. For ‘Les Bleus’, former San Antonio Spurs teammates Nando de Colo and Tony Parker scored 14 and 12 points, respectively.
The former NBA backcourt duo would continue their onslaught in the third period as they scored 19 of the 32 total points of France. With the duo almost equaling the Philippines’ 23 points in the quarter, the lead bubbled to 11 points at the end of the third period with the score, 77-66.
Gilas tried to spark a comeback in the fourth quarter as nine straight points by Romeo brought the lead to six points, 81-75, at the 7:01 minute mark. The Philippines then continued to chip on the lead and reduced it to four points, 85-81, with 3:41 left to play after an inadvertent tip from one of the French big men scored a basket for the Filipinos. It would be the last Philippine rally, however, as it was the closest they could come as eight straight unanswered points by France and Gilas turnovers sealed the game before a Ranidel de Ocampo three-pointer settled the final score.
Recently crowned Euroleague MVP de Colo led the way for France as he finished with 27 points, six rebounds and three steals while All-NBA guard Parker had 21 points, six assits and five rebounds.
For the Philippines, Blatche had 21 points and eight rebounds but had four costly turnovers while the Philippine point guard duo of Romeo and Castro William tried to match their counterpart backcourt duo as Romeo finished with 19 points along with three three-pointer while Castro William had 14 points and three assists.
Gilas Pilipinas will resume action, tomorrow, Wednesday, against New Zealand at 9 pm while France will resume on Thursday against the same team, also at the same time.
France: De Colo 27, Parker 21, Tillie 10, Lauvergne 10, Diaw 9, Gelabale 8, Diot 4, Heurtel 2, Kahudi 2, Pietrus 0, Moerman 0.
Philippines: Blatche 21, Romeo 19, Castro 14, Chan 9, Rosario 6, Norwood 4, De Ocampo 3, Reyes 3, Parks 3, Pingris 2, Fajardo 0.