FIBA: Gilas completes sweep of Thailand, tops Group A

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 30 2020 10:47 PM | Updated as of Dec 01 2020 12:02 AM

FIBA: Gilas completes sweep of Thailand, tops Group A 1
Juan Gomez de Liano looks to score for Gilas Pilipinas in their FIBA Asia Cup qualifying game against Thailand. FIBA.basketball 

(UPDATED) Gilas Pilipinas put together yet another strong performance to turn back Thailand for the second time in four nights, 93-69, in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers in Manama, Bahrain.

The Philippines' comfortable victory on Monday night gave them a sweep of their assignments in the second qualifying window that was held in a bubble in Bahrain. Gilas Pilipinas now has a 3-0 win-loss record to top Group A, ahead of South Korea (2-0) which did not compete in the bubble.

The youthful Gilas squad had beaten Thailand, 93-61, on Friday night, and showed no let-up in repeating their feat.

Javi Gomez de Liaño led the way for the Philippines with 19 points, making seven of his eight shots including all four of his three-pointers. Younger brother Juan contributed 14 points, four rebounds, and four assists, while Dwight Ramos followed up his perfect game from Friday with a 13-point, five-rebound, two-assist outing this time around.

"Since the lead we had in the first game was very big, we were concerned that they might take the game for granted," Gilas coach Jong Uichico said afterward. "We really harped on executing the offense and playing better defense."

"Thailand played a better game today than they did in the first game," he added. 

The Philippines set the tone by scoring the first 11 points of the game, with Isaac Go and Matt Nieto linking up for easy buckets that the Thais struggled to contain. Thailand worked their way back by pouncing on the Philippines' turnovers and outworking them inside the paint for second chance points. 

Thailand got to within four points, 18-14, off a free throw by Wattana Suttisin, but Juan Gomez de Liaño waxed hot from beyond the arc, netting two three-pointers to keep Gilas in control, 27-19, after the opening frame.

The lead ballooned to 19 points at the half, 53-34, with San Beda's Calvin Oftana making an immediate impact in his first taste of action for the national team. Despite the best efforts of Thai center Chanatip Jakrawan, the Philippines never relinquished control in the second half and cruised to another victory. 

The only blemish of Gilas' campaign in Manama was the ankle injury suffered by Nieto in the third quarter. The team's starting point guard twisted his left ankle with seven minutes left in the period and had to be helped off the court; he did not return to the game.

"We don't know how bad it is, but he could not return, so we had to check if it was swollen or not," Uichico said of Nieto, who finished with 12 points and two assists. 

The 23-year-old Chakrawan introduced himself to Philippine fans in a major way, as he scored 34 points on 12-of-19 shooting while also grabbing 12 rebounds. But his efforts went for naught, as his teammates combined to shoot 11-of-49 from the field. 

Gilas Pilipinas shot 45.33% in the game, including 16-of-33 from beyond the arc. They also tallied 26 assists and got 53 points from their bench, while Thailand's reserves failed to contribute a single point. 

The Scores:

GILAS PILIPINAS 93 -- Ja. Gomez de Liano 19, Ju. Gomez de Liano 14, Ramos 13, Ma. Nieto 12, Oftana 9, Go 9, Ildefonso 5, Suerte 4, Paras 4, Baltazar 2, Carino 2, Tungcab 0.

THAILAND 69 -- Jakrawan 34, Suttisin 13, Muangboon 9, Jaisanuk 8, Chungyampin 5, Ghogar 0, Klaewnarong 0, Lakhan 0, Wongsawangtham 0, Langsui 0.

Quarters: 27-19, 53-34, 75-52, 93-69.