Victory came easy for the Philippine men’s basketball team as Asia Cup-bound Gilas Pilipinas jogged to a 76-51 rout against Indonesia, 76-51, in their penultimate game in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers at the Angeles University Foundation Gym in Pampanga.
Victory was bittersweet though as rising power forward Carl Tamayo sustained a grade one ankle injury after landing on the foot of Indonesian enforcer Arki Wisnu early in the fourth quarter.
His fall came after hitting back-to-back triples for an insurmountable 59-38 lead.
Tamayo had to be carried by his teammates and wheelchaired out of the gym as a result.
According to head coach Tab Baldwin, Tamayo’s injury is not “overly serious but he’s in pain.”
Baldwin added that Tamayo “is not probable” for South Korea’s revenge game on Sunday as the team is awaiting “more information” from doctors.
The 20-year-old incoming Fighting Maroon has proven to be a valuable cog to the Gilas rotation in the Clark window. He finished the game with six points off those two triples on top of two steals. He scored ten points last Wednesday versus South Korea.
As usual, the all-amateur Gilas scored buckets by committee, with Dwight Ramos again leading the team with 10 points, 12 boards, and three steals while big men Ange Kouame and Justine Baltazar led in scoring with 11 points each.
RJ Abarrientos added nine points and debutante Lebron Lopez, the youngest in the squad at 17 years old, impressed with eight points, five rebounds and an assist, steal, and block.
Two players debuted for the Gilas seniors squad, with center-forward Geo Chiu tallying four points and three offensive boards while 2021 PBA Draft top pick Jordan Heading scored a triple in the first quarter.
Naturalized import Lester Prosper was the lone bright spot for Indonesia 22 points, eight rebounds, and four blocks and the second leading scorers were Andakara Prastawa and Abraham Grahita with eight points each.
While Gilas’ defense was impeccable, cornering 58 boards and 13 steals while forcing 17 Indonesian turnovers, their shooting was noticeably paltry, scoring only 30 points in the first half with only two triples from Heading and Abarrientos.
Outside scoring started to fizzle up with two triples each from power forwards Tamayo and Baltazar.
In all, Gilas shot at a much lower percentage than in their last game with the much powerful South Korea—39.7 per cent from two points, a measly 28.6 per cent from three points, and a lethargic 63.2 per cent from free throws.
Former Gilas head coach and current Indonesia mentor Rajko Toroman credited Gilas’ zone defense on their victory but Baltazar aired his disappointment, saying that they could not execute their plays in the first half, while Baldwin commented that the team “could not settle down.”
“We looked a little bit like I thought we would look like early in this campaign,” he said. “We really lacked self-discipline unlike the discipline and the culture that we like to establish. And that makes us ordinary; we want to be elite. We want to deserve to be an international team the people do respect.”
“We want to play with high tempo but also with discipline, and we certainly are not there yet. But it’s very early in the campaign for these young basketball players and this a great learning experience for us,” Baldwin continued.
Gilas will finish their campaign Sunday with a return duel with bitter rivals South Korea, who lost last Wednesday on a Hail Mary from SJ Belangel.
(Photo from Gilas Pilipinas Facebook page)