Gilas Pilipinas kicked off its 19th Asian Games campaign in style, defeating Bahrain 89-61 at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Gymnasium in men’s basketball.
The Nationals did not look like a team that had endured a series of lineup changes over the past few weeks, as they displayed great chemistry, crisp passing, and solid defense en route to a resounding victory that undoubtedly served as a warning to their Asian opponents.
In the opening period, the Bahrain squad led by Wayne Chism remained too close for comfort on the strength of its outside shooting, which resulted in four three-pointers in the first ten minutes.
As soon as the shock-troopers, led by Chris Ross’s defensive intensity and CJ Perez’s transition offense, entered the game, the Filipinos established full control in the subsequent quarters.
As anticipated, Justin Brownlee led the attack with a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Perez contributed a substantial amount of support with 15 points.
Ange Kouame also played well with 15 points and six rebounds, while Oftana contributed 10 points. Tim Cone, the head coach of the Nationals, is leading the team’s objective to end a 25-year medal drought for the Filipino dribblers.
Gilas overcame early opposition from Bahrain, a formidable opponent in the tournament, to stamp its ticket to the Olympic qualifying tournament, which the Philippines will also participate in.
Nonetheless, a 22-4 surge in the second quarter transformed a close 22-20 score for Gilas into a massive 18-point advantage, which at some point in the second half grew to a maximum of 34 points.
Maitham Jameel Almoathin scored 14 points to lead Bahrain, while Mustafa Rashed added 13 points. Chism was limited to just five points despite grabbing 13 rebounds, while Ali Rashed contributed 12 points.
Gilas will face Thailand on Thursday, September 28.