HWASEONG, SOUTH KOREA - Gilas Pilipinas' damned campaign in the 2014 Asian Games turned from bad to worse on Monday as it was dealt a 71-78 defeat by a young, rebuilding China team at the start of the consolation round of the basketball competition.
Its morale hitting rock bottom after failing to make the medal round, Gilas was dealt further misery before a sparse crowd at the Hwaseong Sports Complex by a China team that had no Yao Ming or Wang Zhizhi yet dominated the Filipinos just like in its glory days.
The Chinese team, with an average age of 21.5 years old and with no one older than 25, opened leads as big as 19 points then weathered a fourth-quarter comeback that got Gilas within four in the final minutes.
The loss was the fourth in six games in this Asiad for this Philippine team, which arrived in South Korea with great expectations after a respectable showing in the last Fiba World Cup in Spain.
Now this Gilas team is headed for the worst finish by a Philippine team in the quadrennial event as it can't even finish higher than the Rajko Toroman-coached side that ended up sixth in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.
The Filipinos are now left to play for seventh place against the loser of the match between Qatar and Mongolia.
Marcus Douthit finished with 24 points while Ranidel de Ocampo added 14 for the Filipinos, who played without top Filipino performer Jimmy Alapag and starting forward Marc Pngris.
LA Tenorio sliced the gap to four points, 70-66, with four minutes left in the fourth quarter but it proved to be the last gasp for Gilas Pilipinas in the game.
“You can never put this team down,” said Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes on the comeback. “We didn’t have enough players due to injuries. But when we were able to adopt to (China's) man-to-man (defense), they did a great job switching into a zone to stop our comeback.”
Liu Xiaoyu had 16 points for China, while Zhao Tailong had 14 while going 3-of-9 from three-point range. Zhai Xiaochuan and Li Xiaoxu added 13 markers.
China (78) – Liu Xiaoyu 16, Zhao Tailong 14, Zhai Xiaochuan 13, Li Xiaoxu 13, Guo Ailun 10, Zhou Qi 6, Zhou Peng 3, Wang Zhelin 3, Ding Yanyuhang 0, Sun Tonglin 0.
Philippines (71) – Douthit 24, De Ocampo 14, Tenorio 7, Dillinger 7, David 6, Norwood 4, Aguilar 4, Chan 3, Lee 2, Fajardo 0.
Quarters: 21-17, 42-34, 65-53, 78-71