In front of a hostile crowd at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center on Wednesday, Justin Brownlee drained back-to-back clutch three-pointers to lead Gilas Pilipinas to a stunning 77-76 victory over China in the 19th Asian Games men’s basketball semifinal.
The national team made an incredible comeback after trailing the home team for the majority of the game until their scintillating run in the payoff period.
Brownlee finished with 33 points, 21 of which were from three-point country. The resident import of Brgy. Ginebra added 5 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal to his tally. Scottie Thompson backstopped his fellow Gin King with 13 points and 8 boards.
The Filipinos faced the same Chinese team they defeated in the most recent FIBA World Cup, but without naturalized player Li Kaier [Kyle Anderson].
After falling behind 15-6, the national team fought back with an 11-2 run that was completed by June Mar Fajardo’s mid-range jumper to level the game at 17 with 17 seconds left in the first quarter. Zhao Jiwei sank two free throws off a foul by Chris Ross to put China ahead 19-17 heading into the second session.
The home side then embarked on a 14-4 blitz to open up another double-digit advantage, 36-21, in the second canto and went into the halftime break on top by 18, 48-30.
Midway in the third frame, Brownlee hit a triple to keep the Gilas offense going after a Hu Jinqiu floater. The gap was subsequently reduced to 10, 60-50, with the two sides trading baskets.
During the 4th period, the nationals ramped up the tempo thanks to baskets from Ange Kouame and Brownlee.
Gilas inched closer, 69-65, after Kevin Alas’ three-pointer in the 5-minute mark, but China maintained its lead with back-to-back hits from Du Runwang and Hu Jinqiu.
Brownlee took matters into his own hands and drained a clutch trey with a minute left to cut the lead down to a single possession, 76-74. China’s subsequent trip down was stopped by the Philippines after Du Runwang missed a triple of his own.
With Kouame serving as a screen, Brownlee broke free for another triple which gave the Filipinos the lead, 77-76, with the game clock down to the final 23.3 seconds.