Gilas Pilipinas is back on top of Asian Games basketball after a 61-year long wait.
Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame provided the national team’s inside-outside combo, while Chris Newsome handled Rondae Hollis-Jefferson on the defensive end to lead the Filipinos to a 70-60 victory over Jordan in the winner-take-all finals of the 19th Asiad at the Hangzhou Olympic Centre.
Brownlee had a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds, Kouame had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Newsome had his best game of the tournament with 13 points despite spending the majority of the game guarding the 28-year-old Jefferson.
The Filipinos celebrated at midcourt when everything was over as the country reigned anew as Asiad basketball kings for the first time since 1962.
“We’re too good of a basketball nation not to win this thing,” said head coach Tim Cone during 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 court while being closely guarded by Newsome, shooting just 8-of-29 overall, but still managed to finish with a game-high 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists.
The TNT import had his moment in the second quarter, scoring 8 points during a 16-3 surge that tied the game at 31 going into the halftime break.
Before Jordan’s turnaround, Gilas held a 28-15 advantage. It was the best the Jordanians could do as Gilas seized control at the start of the second half and never relinquished it.