TAIPEI - Gilas Pilipinas new boys Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva passed their Jones Cup debut with flying colors, leading Gilas Pilipinas to a rousing 77-69 win over host Chinese-Taipei before a partisan crowd at the Xinchuang Gymnasium on Sunday night.
Romeo scored 18 points on a dazzling array of drives and three-pointers that served as his introduction to Asian basketball. He scored five points in the final two minutes alone, including a shot clock-beating three-pointer that set off the game-clinching run for Gilas.
On the other hand, Abueva proved a bundle of energy on the floor as Gilas fended off a fiery Taipei run from a 19-point deficit to put together its most impressive game yet under new coach Tab Baldwin.
"Honestly, I don’t want to get carried away with the win. There are still so many things for us to work on," said national coach Tab Baldwin after the win that avenged Gilas' 79-84 loss to Taipei in the 2013 Fiba Asia Championships in Manila.
"But the important thing for me is for our fans to enjoy this win, both the fans here and those back home. The big thing for Gilas that we have a lot of fans cheering for us. That’s the satisfaction we’re gonna take from this win."
Romeo and Abueva set the tone for the team right in the first half, giving a lot of reasons for the outnumbered Pinoy fans in the stands to break into celebration.
Romeo scored nine of his 11 points in the first quarter alone while Abueva had nine second-quarter points, including a corner three-pointer that opened a 40-24 lead for Gilas with 5:10 left in the second quarter. He finished with 15 points and five rebounds in under 14 minutes of play.
Gilas opened its biggest lead at 19, 47-38, with 2:46 left in the half after a Gabe Norwood three-pointer.
Jayson Castro added 16 points while Dondon Hontiveros hit three-pointers for Gilas, who made just eight of 36 attempts from three-point land but went 23 of 46 from two-point range.
Asi Taulava and Moala Tautuaa combined for 17 rebounds.
Gilas 77 – Romeo 18, Castro 16, Abueva 15, Hontiveros 9, Norwood 7, Pingris 4, Tautuaa 4, David 2, Thoss 2, Taulava 0, Ganuelas 0.
Taipei 69 – Chen 12, Davis 12, Tien 11, Tseng 11, Liu 9, Tsai 8, Lin 5, Chang 1, Chen Shih 0, Lu 0, Wu 0.
Quarterscores: 26-20, 47-31, 54-all, 77-69.