Gilas Pilipinas made a thunderous statement as they opened their 19th Asian Games campaign with a resounding 89-61 victory over Bahrain at the HOC Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, September 26, 2023.
The electrifying clash unfolded on Tuesday at the HOC Olympic Stadium, setting the stage for a promising campaign.
The pivotal second quarter witnessed the dynamic duo of Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame orchestrating a mesmerizing breakaway. Their combined prowess allowed the Philippine national team to establish a commanding 51-33 lead heading into halftime.
In a dazzling debut on the continental stage, Justin Brownlee showcased his versatility, amassing 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Meanwhile, the towering presence of Ange Kouame contributed 15 crucial points to the team’s 28-point triumph. With this convincing win, Gilas Pilipinas took pole position in Pool C, sharing the spotlight with Jordan, who also secured an impressive victory, crushing Thailand 97-63 on the same day.
Coach Tim Cone wasted no time focusing on the next challenge, emphasizing the importance of preparations to face Tyler Lamb and the formidable Thai squad on Thursday.
Reflecting on the upcoming encounter, Coach Cone remarked, “We didn’t cross paths with Thailand in the Southeast Asian Games. We observed them during the SEA Games, but we weren’t matched up against them. They were eliminated by Cambodia.”
Gilas Pilipinas asserted their dominance throughout the game, surging ahead by a staggering 34-point margin late in the contest. CJ Perez, one of five last-minute additions to the roster, showcased his scoring prowess with 15 points, while Calvin Oftana joined the double-figure club with an impressive 14 points.
Once victory was assured, Coach Cone opted to grant valuable court time to the recently added players, including Kevin Alas, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross, and Arvin Tolentino. This decision aimed to integrate them seamlessly into the Gilas system after their swift induction into the team just a week before the Asian Games.
Coach Cone elaborated on the significance of this experience, stating, “We needed to provide that additional playing time. These five players are still acclimatizing to our system, and their contributions will play a pivotal role in determining our success moving forward.”
In a showdown featuring former PBA import Wayne Chism, the Philippine defense managed to limit him to a mere five points. Jameel Almoathin led the charge for Bahrain with a commendable 14-point effort.
The resounding victory has set the stage for Gilas Pilipinas to continue their pursuit of Asian Games glory, with the next challenge against Thailand eagerly awaited by fans and enthusiasts alike.
Philippines (89) – Brownlee 20, Kouame 15, Perez 15, Oftana 10, Fajardo 8, Lassiter 8, Thompson 5, Newsome 3, Alas 2, Aguilar 2, Ross 1, Tolentino 0.
Bahrain (61) – Almoathin 14, Rashed MHA 13, Rashed AHA 12, Buallay 8, Melad 6, Chism 5, Hamoda 3, Al Haddad 0, Kadhem 0, Hasan 0, Al Hassan 0.
Quarterscores: 22-18, 51-33, 72-47, 89-61.