Gilas Pilipinas fends off Thailand to stay unbeaten in Asian Games

FILE–Justin Brownlee during Gilas’ open practice.—MARLO CUETO/

Gilas Pilipinas smoothened the gaps in its game in the third quarter and then kept it together down the stretch to escape Thailand, 87-72, for an unbeaten start in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

Justin Brownlee and CJ Perez were big once again for the Philippines with the beloved naturalized ace top scoring with 22 points, 15 rebounds and five assists while the latter chipped in 16 off the bench in the contest at Zhejiang University.

The pair took turns halfway through the final period to cool the Thais, who pulled within five, 70-65, behind the spirited effort of Fred Lish.

The win thus gives the Philippines its second victory in the continental showcase and all the boost in confidence it needs heading into a marquee match against Jordan, which is parading NBA veteran and TNT import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

SCHEDULE: Gilas at Hangzhou Asian Games basketball

June Mar Fajardo chipped in nine points, Calvin Oftana eight, while Scottie Thompson tossed in seven more that went with eight rebounds and nine assists.

Gilas actually trailed by 10 points early in the game but was able to remedy that lethargic play  with 15 unanswered points in the second period.

The Philippines was then in cruise control going into the third period until frost shooting hounded the Nationals once again, paving the way for the Thais’ late fightback.

Tyler Lamb had 29 points built on six triples, while Lish added 22. The pair were the only two players to score more than six points for Thailand which will try to arrest its slide against Bahrain.

The Gilas-Jordan match set this coming Saturday will feature a battle of unbeaten teams as the Jordanians have also made it two straight following a rout of the Bahrainis also Thursday.

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