CHANGSHA, China — Unranked Palestine scored a huge shocker on opening day of the Fiba Asia Championship, downing 2013 silver medalist Philippines, 75-73, on Wednesday at the Changsha Social Work College’s Gymnasium.
In a match that was expected to be a walk in the park, Gilas Pilipinas showed a serious wobble.
The Philippines held double-digit leads early but failed to hold on and the relentless Palestine side finally took the upperhand in the final two minutes.
Jamal Abu Shamala led the way for Palestine, a squad seeing action in the continental championships for the first time, registering a huge double-double with 26 points and 15 rebounds.
Aside from the shaky shooting, Gilas Pilipinas also was brought down by spotty defending against a Palestine side that got points from only four of seven players fielded.
Forward Sani Sakakini had 22 points, Imad Qahwash had 17, and Salim Sakakini chipped in with 10.
Gilas did show fine plays early before the big collapse, with Andray Blatche making his long shots and maneuvering sleekly his huge frame past defenders in the paint.
The Philippines’ naturalized slotman already had 14 points and eight rebounds before being pulled early in the first half, and he wound up with 21 and 12 in almost 28 minutes of action.
Terrence Romeo had 11 points on 4 of 13 shooting, while Jayson Castro was the only other Filipino to score in double figures with 10, making three of eight field goal attempts.
Gilas Pilipinas shot a dismal 33.8 percent (26/77) overall, making just seven of 30 shots from beyond the arc.
Palestine 75 – J. Abu Shamala 26, S. Sakakini 22, I. Qahwash 17, S. Sakakini 10, A. Haroon 0, S. Khatib 0, A. Younis 0, J. Yaghmour 0, A. Salman 0, E. Odeh 0, S. Owda 0, H. Yousef 0.
Gilas 73 – Blatche 21, Romeo 11, William 10, De Ocampo 6, Intal 6, Abueva 5, Thoss 4, Norwood 3, Hontiveros 3, Pingris 2, Ganuelas 2, Taulava 0.