PHILIPPINES provided the storyline of day two at the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon as they avenged their loss in the 2015 final by beating China 96-87 in Group B.
Gilas, ranked 27th in the world, appeared as if they were going to throw away a 16-point lead, as reigning champions China fought back from 68-52 down to lead 87-84 with 4:20 to play.
But Philippines, inspired by 26-point Terrence Romeo, ended the game on a 12-0 run to hand China – ranked 14th in the world – a first defeat in the tournament since Chinese Taipei beat them in the quarter-finals in 2013.
Victory saw Gilas exact some revenge for the 2015 FIBA Asia final in Changsha, when China – with the aid of what many observers felt were some highly questionable calls – beat Philippines 78-67 to lift the title.
Gilas, who had Calvin Abueva ejected for a first-quarter headbutt on China’s Li Gen this time, otherwise showed excellent composure, shooting 58.2 percent of their field goals.
That was in stark contrast to Jordan, who edged out Syria in Group A despite shooting only 32.9 percent. Jordan triumphed 68-66 on 24-for-73 from the field and 11-for-23 from the foul line.
In an attritional final game of the day, which lacked quality, Tarek Aljabi’s 25 points proved in vain for Syria.
With Philippines having taken the driving seat in the race to qualify from Group B, the other game in that pool was won by Iraq, who defeated Qatar 75-66 thanks largely to the efficiency of naturalised player Kevin Galloway.
He played the entire 40 minutes, scoring 16 points, grabbing eight boards and providing three assists. Abdulraham Saad impressed for Qatar, dropping 23 points, but his did not lead at any point after the third quarter.
Iran were the day’s biggest winners, crushing India 101-54 in a ruthless performance, which saw Hamed Hadadi contribute 20 points and eight assists.
All 12 of Iran’s players scored at least two points, with five reaching double figures, as they made a storming start, leading 29-8 after the first quarter and 50-22 at the half.
Day two by numbers
Top points scorers: 26 – Terrence Romeo (Philippines), 25 – Tarek Aljabi (Syria), 23 – Abdulraham Saad (Qatar), 20 – Hamed Hadadi (Iran), 18 – Mohammad Jamshidijafarabadi (Iran), Guo Ailun (China), 17 – Zhou Peng (China)
Top rebounders: 12 – Ali Saeed Erfan (Qatar) 10 – Arsalan Kazemi (Iran), Yousef Abuwazaneh (Jordan), 8 – Kevin Galloway (Iraq)
Most assists: 8 – Hamed Hadadi (Iran), Karrah Hamzah (Iraq), 7 – Mah’d Abdeen (Jordan), Jayson Castro (Philippines)
Best team field-goal percentage: 58.2 (Philippines)
Worst team field-goal percentage: 32.9 (Jordan)
Day three action (Thursday, August 10)
Group C: South Korea v Kazakhstan, New Zealand v Lebanon; Group D: Chinese Taipei v Japan, Australia v Hong Kong.