Gilas Pilipinas ended 61 long years of waiting and finally reclaimed the men’s basketball gold in the Asian Games on Friday night.
Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame formed the team’s inside and outside punch, while Chris Newsome took care of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson on the defensive end to steer the national team to a 70-60 win over Jordan in the winner-take-all finals of this 19th edition of the Asiad at the Hangzhou Olympic Centre.
Brownlee had a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds, Kouame with 14 and 12, and Newsome with his best game of the tournament with 13 points aside from guarding the 28-year-old Jefferson for most of the time.
The Filipinos celebrated at midcourt when everything was over as the country reigned anew as Asiad basketball king after 1962.
“We’re too good of a basketball nation not to win this thing,” coach Tim Cone said in the post-game presser.
“But you know, it’s an unexplainable feeling that we have at this point, seemingly coming out of nowhere to win this.”
Hollis-Jefferson struggled on the floor with Newsome tightly guarding him, shooting 8-of-29 overall, but still managed to finish with a game-high 24 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists.