Gilas Pilipinas’ rally came up short as they lost to Jordan, 91-90, in the final window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Philippine Arena.
Despite Justin Brownlee’s 41-point explosion, the Filipinos failed to complete their comeback after being down by as much as 25 points.
The game was decided in the final minute, as Gilas missed crucial free throws from Scottie Thompson, allowing Jordan to escape with the win.
Thompson, who missed both free throws after being fouled, expressed his disappointment after the game and vowed to learn from the experience.
Thompson, who played an all-around game with nine points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and a steal, took responsibility for his missed free throws, saying, “I’m gonna learn from this and sobrang dami kong nabigong mga Pilipino so, masakit for me, but I think ito yung pinakabest na ni-remind sakin na I have to get better (I’m gonna learn from this and I’ve failed so many Filipinos so, it’s painful for me, but I think this is the best thing that reminded me that I have to get better).”
Jordan dominated the game early on, leading by as much as 25 points in the second quarter, thanks to their hot-shooting from beyond the arc.
Zaid Abbas even buried a triple with 8:23 remaining in the second quarter, putting the home team in a deep hole.
But Gilas Pilipinas did not give up easily.
Brownlee erupted with 17 points in the third quarter, leading the team to outscore Lebanon 23-10. Gilas Pilipinas carried this momentum to the final period, where they tied the game twice, first at 81-all and then at 88-all, with less than two minutes remaining.
However, costly misses from the free-throw line by Scottie Thompson ruined Gilas’ chances of securing the victory.
He was fouled by Mohammad Hussein with a little over 30 ticks left on the clock, but he was unable to convert either of his free throws, leaving the Filipinos trailing by one point.
Gilas managed to pull off a defensive stop in the next possession, but Ray Parks Jr. missed the potential game-winner as time ran out on the Filipinos.
Despite the loss, Brownlee finished with an impressive double-double of 41 points and 12 boards, along with three assists and a block. Jamie Malonzo was the only other player for Gilas to breach double-digit scoring with 11 points.
“If we were able to tighten our defense in the first half, the game would’ve been different,” Brownlee said. “You saw the will, the energy, and the fight in this team. Filipino basketball is about playing with heart and giving it all you’ve got and that’s what we did.”
The naturalized Filipino said they learned a lot from the loss and they are looking to move forward.
He, however, was thrilled to have played with his Gilas teammates for the flag and country.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes, for his part, said he told the team that their game against Jordan will be another test. “Friday is done, it’s over, and this is another test. And tonight, we got tested, and despite the result, I’m still very pleased with the way we played, particularly in the second half,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jordan leaned on Dar Tucker’s 22 points and 12 rebounds, along with Freddy Ibrahim’s 19 points and eight assists, to secure the win.
Jordan finished the qualifiers with a 6-4 slate, similar to Gilas Pilipinas, but they advanced to the World Cup with a three-game win streak.