Gilas Pilipinas started its build-up for the 2023 FIBA World Cup with a rousing home victory over India, 88-64, Friday night in the Asian Qualifiers at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Japan B.League imports Dwight Ramos and Thirdy Ravena led the charge for the Philippine national basketball team with 17 and 15 points, respectively.
Not a few were expecting Gilas to run roughshod over the 80th ranked team but the visitors were able to keep in step and were only down by a manageable 12-point deficit at the half.
“Well, we talked about taking our first step as a team, being that this is our very first game, to play together as a unit,” said Gilas head coach Chot Reyes. “We expected to struggle a little bit to start.”
The Filipinos, however, started to take the game under control in the 3rd frame via 22-8 blitz highlighted by TNT guard Kib Montalbo’s 8 markers including a buzzer-beating trifecta which pegged at the score at 68-47 going into the payoff period.
The home team was never threatened thereafter.
“Just to keep focusing on the things that matter,” said Reyes. “Two things we focused on are the turnovers and rebounds. If we clean up those two things, we would have a better game in the second half. Not so well with the turnovers but we did a much better job in the rebounding.”
Roger Pogoy added 12 points while Robert Bolick chipped in 10. Ange Kouame contributed 6 points to go with 9 boards and 2 blocks.