Since taking over the helm of the men's national team, Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes has always wanted to see his team work its collective behinds off on the defensive end.
In the first 4 games of the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers, the intensity on that side of the floor has been largely absent for Reyes and his crew, the team often relying on its star-studded roster to produce wins.
On Friday, the defense didn't rest for Gilas and the result was its most emphatic win of the competition thus far.
Down 30-21 to a Chinese-Taipei side that was shooting lights out in the first half, the Philippines launched a mayhem-type approach to get back in the game and take control.
After the hosts took the 9-point lead, Andray Blatche's block and steal that led to 4 points started off Gilas' rally.
The aggressiveness by the Philippines forced Chinese-Taipei to play deep into its shot clock often, at one point turning the ball over as time expired.
Shots were challenged, the paint protected, misses recovered and passing lanes disrupted — it was a sight to behold as the Filipinos chipped away at the deficit, took the lead and eventually control.
Halftime score? Philippines 44, Chinese-Taipei 37.
Even though Gilas kept the home side at bay from that point on, Chinese-Taipei showed resilience, cutting the deficit to a manageable 9 points with 6:31 remaining in the game.
Similar to its first-half rally, though, the Philippines again locked down on D as it went for Chinese-Taipei's throat.
After a 3-pointer by Cheng-Ju Lu made it 78-69, the next 8 possessions by Chinese-Taipei were as follows:
- 3 consecutive missed 3-pointers rebounded by Gilas;
- a shot clock violation;
- a bucket by Ying-Chun Chen;
- a turnover off a steal by RR Pogoy;
- and 2 more missed 3-pointers rebounded by Gilas.
At the end of that drought, Gilas went on an 11-2 run to go up by 20 points for the first time in the game, 91-71. In the final 3:10, the Philippines held the hosts scoreless.
After Chinese-Taipei started 7 of 13 from behind the arc, it only made 5 of 19 the rest of the way.
The Philippines forced Chinese-Taipei to 22 turnovers, 10 more than Gilas committed. In the points-off-turnovers department, it was a no-contest: Gilas scored 28, Chinese-Taipei only 6.
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