TAIPEI - Gilas Pilipinas overcame a sluggish performance and an even uglier finish to turn back a US selection, 78-74, on Saturday in the 37th Jones Cup basketball tournament at the Xinzhuang Stadium.
Sonny Thoss and Calvin Abueva bailed out a Gilas side that just had enough to beat an aging US side in a game that became immaterial to the championship race after Iran's title-clinching 78-54 win over Spartak of Russia.
Abueva was the most active player on the floor as usual, turning up the pace and finishing fastbreaks with aplomb against a team that included former Purefoods import Marquin Chandler, ex-GlobalPort reinforcement CJ Warner and former Los Angeles Clipper Keith Closs.
'The Beast' finished with 20 points, eight rebounds, two assists and three steals in less than 22 minutes - his longest exposure in a game this conference - as the Philippines opened as much as an 18-point lead, 55-37, midway through the third quarter.
"He's learning and Calvin will stay as much time on the court, as long as he stays out of foul trouble," national coach Tab Baldwin said. "He's such a productive guy, but he has a few things to work on in terms of his decision-making."
Instead of finishing with a flourish, Gilas faded in the fourth quarter and allowed the US, with their old, tired legs, to get too close for comfort, 66-70, on two free throws by Chandler with 2:20 minutes to go.
Thoss, however, stepped up for Gilas, hitting three baskets in a row on two semi-hooks inside the lane and a sweet 16-footer for a 74-68 lead with 1:23 to go.
The US got within 71-74 again on two Cory Bradford free throws but Dondon Hontiveros' own foul shots sealed the win for Gilas in a game that became immaterial after Iran clinched the championship in the game earlier.
Surprisingly, Baldwin was far from disappointed after Gilas' fifth against two losses, saying he expected the players to struggle and the energy to go down as the team played in seventh game in as many days.
Thoss finished with 13 points and six rebounds while Gary David added 13 points in a game where Gilas relied on Matt Rosser and Gabe Norwood at the point in the absence of point guards Jayson Castro and Terrence Romeo.
At 5-2, Gilas can clinch second place in this tournament the Philippines won in 2012 if it beats Chinese Taipei's Team B on the final day.
A game earlier, Iran wrapped up its fifth Jones Cup title in seven years by finishing its campaign at 7-1.
Gilas 78 – Abueva 20, Thoss 13, David 13, Hontiveros 7, Taulava 7, De Ocampo 7, Intal 5, Tautuaa 4, Rosario 2, Norwood 0, Pingris 0, Ganuelas 0.
US 74 – Chandler 20, Bradford 19, Warner 17, McDonald 8, Closs 6, Watkins 2, Hall 2, Andrade 0, Mirza 0, Waters 0.
Quarterscores: 15-13, 40-30, 60-47, 78-74