A promising start made it look like Gilas Pilipinas was primed for a miracle in Melbourne.
But this David needed more than a slingshot to slay Asia’s basketball Goliath.
The Philippine men’s national team fell to Australia 84-68 in their qualifying game at Margaret Court Arena Thursday for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
It took the Australians a little while to feel comfortable playing to the Philippines’ frenetic pace.
However, as soon as the hosts started to knock down their shots and confused the Filipinos with a lethal mix of size, ball movement and athleticism, the Australians flexed their muscle and showed the visitors why they are the reigning Asian regional champions.
The Philippines, which entered the game without top playmaker Jayson Castro because of an injury, dropped to 2-1 in Group B, as Australia hiked its record to 3-0.
June Mar Fajardo scored 15 points, while Matthew Wright added 9 for the Philippines, which got pummeled off the glass and at the free-throw line.
Gilas shot an unacceptable 7 of 19 from the foul line, while allowing Australia to get away making 25 of 32 free throw attempts.
The Boomers used their size advantage to the hilt, too, outrebounding the visitors 50-30.
It was a blowout in the end, but Gilas didn’t go down without a fight.
The Philippines was still in the game when Fajardo’s bucket off a strong post-up move made it 54-48 with about 2 minutes left in the third quarter, Australia in front.
But when Fajardo was subbed out because of 4 fouls and Andray Blatche came in, that’s when Australia struck, taking advantage of a tired Blatche by speeding up the pace to finish the third on a 9-1 run and go up 63-49.
The first half was tossup, with Gilas in control at times.
Anchored on stingy defense and an attacking mindset on offense that challenged the Boomers’ bigs, the Filipinos went up 30-25 at one point.
But Australia settled down and, as the initial daze wore off, the Boomers started to turn the tables.
A 10-0 run over a near 4-minute stretch helped the Boomers take a 37-32 lead at the break, before stretching that advantage in the second half.
Shooting guard Cameron Gliddon led 4 Australia players in double-digit scoring with 16 points and 4-of-6 3-point shooting, while Mitchell Creek added 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Gilas’ next World Cup qualifying game is against Japan at Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)