Gilas Pilipinas men’s winning streak ended in a hard-fought match against Jordan on Saturday, September 30, during the 19th Asian Games.
Jordan, led by the outstanding performance of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, showcased their prowess by sweeping Group C of the preliminaries with a final score of 87-62, securing a spot in the quarterfinals at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center.
This loss now places Gilas in a challenging position, marking their first setback after impressive victories against Bahrain and Thailand. They will face off against Group D’s third-placer, Qatar, in a knockout game on Monday, October 2, at 4 p.m., with a coveted seat in the quarterfinals at stake.
In the meantime, Jordan gears up for a quarterfinal showdown against either Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, or Kazakhstan on Tuesday, October 3, in pursuit of one of four semifinal berths.
Should Gilas emerge victorious against Qatar, a formidable encounter with Asian powerhouse Iran awaits them in the quarterfinals. Only after that can the Philippines begin contemplating a potential matchup against Japan, who stunned South Korea with an 83-77 victory, fueled by an impressive 17 three-pointers.
Iran showcased their dominance by sweeping Group A, concluding the preliminary stage with an emphatic 86-60 victory over Kazakhstan on Saturday.
Throughout the game, Gilas never managed to take control of Jordan. However, they fought valiantly, rallying from a halftime deficit of 42-29 to level the score twice, the second time at 52-all following a CJ Perez drive with just 1:14 remaining in the third quarter.
Yet, Jordan quickly regained their footing, led by the outstanding efforts of Hollis-Jefferson (25 points), point guard Fadi Ibrahim (24), Ahmad Al Dwairi (22), and sharpshooter Sami Bzai (17). They orchestrated a 13-point surge extending into the fourth quarter, ultimately securing their victory.
Jordan exhibited exceptional shooting accuracy, boasting a 52 percent success rate from the field (32 of 61), while Gilas struggled with a mere 33 percent (24 of 72), hindered by 20 missed three-point attempts.
The first half offered a glimpse of the game’s trajectory, as an 11-0 Jordan run from 19-all in the second quarter seemed to sap the energy from Gilas, leaving them trailing 42-29 at halftime. The Nationals grappled to find their rhythm, plagued by missed opportunities at the basket, only managing to convert 8 of 23 attempts (35 percent) in the initial 20 minutes.
In the first quarter alone, key players like Scottie Thompson, CJ Perez, Japeth Aguilar, and Ange Kouame combined for a discouraging 0 of 8. At halftime, Perez remained without a successful field goal (0 of 4), with Kouame at 1 of 5, Aguilar at 1 of 5, and Calvin Oftana at 0 of 4. Gilas struggled with their three-point attempts, converting only two of 13.
Justin Brownlee and June Mar Fajardo managed to escape the shooting woes, with Brownlee delivering an impressive 24 points, making him the sole Gilas player in double figures.
In contrast, Jordan displayed remarkable accuracy, hitting 10 of 18 two-point shots and sinking 5 of 13 from beyond the three-point arc in the first half.
Fadi Ibrahim demonstrated exceptional prowess, contributing 9 points alongside Hollis-Jefferson’s 11, and John Bohannon’s solid 10. Hollis-Jefferson mirrored Brownlee’s time on the court in the first half, going 3 of 8 from the floor with five assists and five rebounds, culminating in a buzzer-beating jumper before halftime.
Ibrahim mirrored this feat with a stunning buzzer-beating three-pointer, breaking a 13-all tie in the first quarter.
Despite Gilas’ valiant efforts, Jordan ultimately seized control of the game, securing their victory.