FIBA: Gilas out-muscled in big loss to New Zealand

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 30 2022 05:28 PM | Updated as of Jun 30 2022 06:41 PM

Gilas Pilipinas captain Kiefer Ravena looks to make a pass against New Zealand during their FIBA World Cup Asian qualifier at the EventFinda Stadium in Auckland. FIBA.basketball
Gilas Pilipinas captain Kiefer Ravena looks to make a pass against New Zealand during their FIBA World Cup Asian qualifier at the EventFinda Stadium in Auckland. FIBA.basketball

(UPDATED) A young Gilas Pilipinas squad absorbed a 106-60 defeat to New Zealand in the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers on Thursday, getting out-muscled by the hosts at the EventFinda Stadium in Auckland.

The Philippines, featuring a line-up full of amateur standouts, struggled against the bigger, more experienced Tall Blacks throughout the game. They were repeatedly beaten on the offensive boards and committed several turnovers in the face of New Zealand's pressure defense. 

Despite enjoying the support of many Filipino fans in the stadium, Gilas could not avenge their 88-63 defeat to New Zealand during the February window at the Araneta Coliseum.

Instead, the Philippines fell to 1-2 in Group B of the qualifiers. They will return to action on Sunday, July 3, when they host India at the Mall of Asia Arena. 

New Zealand, meanwhile, completed a 4-0 sweep of Group B. They won both of their matches against India in February aside from their rout of the Philippines.

University of the Philippines big man Carl Tamayo led the Philippines in scoring with 16 points along with five rebounds, but he struggled with foul trouble and had to be helped off the court with 7:50 left to play after what appeared to be an ankle sprain.

Colegio de San Juan de Letran's Rhenz Abando, playing in his first FIBA game, had 11 points. 

But the team struggled on offense, converting just 33.87% of their shots, including a paltry four of 26 attempts from long range.

The guards, in particular, had a rough night: Kiefer Ravena went 3-of-10 from the field for six points, while SJ Belangel and RJ Abarrientos combined for just five points on 2-of-11 shooting. Dwight Ramos had nine rebounds and four assists, but made just two of 11 shots for six points as well.

"Very tough night for this young team. We have come across a Tall Blacks team that is playing with high intensity and very good execution. We struggled to contain them in that part of the game, in the physicality, the intensity and the speed," said Gilas Pilipinas coach Nenad Vučinić.

"The Tall Blacks have dominated us in all aspects of the game, and it's something that, you know, it will help us to get better in the future," he added.

Big 2nd quarter puts NZ in control 

It was a slow start for the Philippines, as they trailed, 23-13, after the opening period where New Zealand scored seven-second chance points thanks to eight offensive rebounds. Tamayo, the reigning UAAP Rookie of the Year, scored the Philippines' first five points but had to sit with still six minutes to play after incurring a second foul.

The Tall Blacks blew the game open in the second quarter, where they out-scored Gilas, 24-8. Veterans Corey Webster and Dion Prewster led the way in a blistering run that put the hosts completely in control. Gilas trailed by just eight points, 23-15, off two free throws by Tamayo but the Tall Blacks answered with 12 unanswered points to push their lead to 20, 35-15, with 4:10 to play in the second quarter.

A jumper by Ravena finally stopped the bleeding for Gilas, but New Zealand was on a roll at that point and they entered the break with a commanding 47-21 advantage. 

The Philippines played much better on offense coming out of the halftime break, but they couldn't stop New Zealand on the other end. Despite losing the quarter by just four points, 26-22, Gilas could not make any headway into the deficit and trailed, 73-43, heading into the final frame.

New Zealand showed no let-up in the fourth despite being well in control, and a layup by Flynn Cameron gave them their biggest lead and completed the scoring with 1:41 to play. The Tall Blacks also had a slow start, particularly from long distance, but finished the game shooting 50% from the field.

They also had a 47-33 advantage in rebounding, and converted the Philippines' 19 turnovers into a whopping 32 points. The Tall Blacks dominated inside the paint, scoring 52 points in the shaded lane as the Filipinos had no answer for their dribble penetration. 

"Today was a tough game for us, not only for the players, but for the Philippines. We just have to learn from this game and move on for Sunday's game. So everything that happened today, we just have to learn from it," said Belangel after the contest.

Prewster led the way for the Tall Blacks with 15 points, while Finn Delany finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. Jordan Ngatai and Ethan Rusbatch each contributed 12 points, while Webster finished with 11.

The scores:

NEW ZEALAND 106 -- Prewster 15, Delany 14, Ngatai 12, Rusbatch 12, Webster 11, Ili 10, Vodanovich 8, Britt 7, Cameron 6, Smith-Milner 5, Timmins 4, Harris 2.

PHILIPPINES 60 -- Tamayo 16, Abando 11, Lopez 8, Ramos 6, Ravena 6, Quiambao 4, Belangel 3, Chiu 2, Navarro 2, Abarrientos 2, Ildefonso 0.

Quarters: 23-13, 47-21, 73-43, 106-60.