MANILA, Philippines – Smart Gilas Pilipinas lost a closely fought opening game against a young Chinese squad in the 2012 FIBA Asia Cup, 71-68, on Friday.
The Philippines was so close in winning the game at the Ota City Gymnasium in Tokyo, having led by 7 points with over 2 minutes remaining.
Gilas received a boost from Gabe Norwood, Jeff Chan and Gary David during their second half assault against China.
But their efforts went for naught after a defensive meltdown late in the fourth quarter.
The Filipinos trailed China with an 18-15 deficit in the opening quarter.
Despite Gilas’ fight back in the second quarter, the young Chinese team still maintained a 40-33 lead at the half.
Back-to-back baskets by Norwood and a putback by Larry Fonacier brought Gilas within 3 points, 51-48, in the third.
A series of plays capped by Gary David’s triple enabled the Filipinos to seize the lead 56-54 going into the final quarter.
Gilas widened the gap to 7 points, 63-56, but the Chinese squad unleashed a run of their own to reclaim the lead, 66-64, with 2 minutes left.
A 4-3 exchange brought the Filipinos within striking distance, 69-68, over a minute remaining.
China bought itself a basket for a 71-68 breather, 33 ticks left.
Jeff Chan and David tried to pull off a miracle from the three point area, but their efforts went in vain.
The last time the Filipinos defeated China was 5 years ago when a Chot Reyes-coached squad upset the Chinese side in the 2007 FIBA-Asia Championship.
Gilas will next face Lebanon on Saturday.