MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas drilled several shots from the outside and came close to beating host team France during the opener of the 2014 Antibes International Basketball Tournament on Friday (early Saturday in Manila).
The Filipinos rained a total of 12 triples against their taller French counterparts, but France leaned on Nicolas Batum in the end game to come up with a 75-68 win.
“We fought them tooth and nail. That was a top five team in the world," said Gilas team manager Aboy Castro in Richard Dy’s report to Spin.ph.
The nationals even posted a seven point lead against France at one point but the French caught up in the fourth when naturalized player Andray Blatche was forced to sit out for majority of that quarter due to a sprained ankle.
With Blatche out, France dominated the shaded lane with Batum pouring 14 of his 16 points in the second half.
Blatche finished with 12 points same as Paul Lee. Jeff Chan added 9, while Jimmy Alapag and Ranidel de Ocampo had 8 each.
Joffrey Lauvergne scored 12 points for France, which also received added boost from Mikael Pietrus’s 10 and Nando de Colo’s 8.
Gilas will next battle Australia late Saturday in the tournament which serves as the Filipinos' tune-up before the FIBA World Cup of Basketball.