GILAS Pilipinas gave a heavily favored Australian side all it could handle in a brave first-half performance before going down, 84-68, on Thursday in their 2019 Fiba World Cup qualifier in Melbourne.
The Filipinos hardly looked intimidated by a home side ranked No. 10 in the world, attacking aggressively and opening a 26-21 lead to the delight of Pinoy fans who looked - and sounded - as if they outnumbered local supporters at the Margaret Court Arena.
Gilas gallantly stayed close to the Boomers, 32-37, after the first half before the home side started to impose its advantage in terms of size and heft at around the same time wasted chances from the free-throw line started to weigh down the Filipinos.
Australia cruised from there to post its third successive win in the home-and-away qualifiers that will determine Asia's seven representatives to the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China.
Gilas, which played without longtime leader Jayson Castro owing to an ankle injury, went down to its first loss after victories against Japan and Chinese-Taipei in the first window of the qualifiers.
Guard Cameron Gliddon led the hosts with 16 points on 4-of-6 clip from beyond the three-point arc. He hit three of those triples in the third quarter when the Boomers methodically pulled away to double-digit lead by outscoring Gilas, 26-17.
AJ Brandt scored 13 points, Kevin Lisch added 12 points while Mitch Creek had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Boomers, who outrebounded Gilas as expected, 50-30, and had twice as many assists, 16-8.
Australia's bench also outscored Gilas', 43-23.
June Mar Fajardo led Gilas with 15 points and two rebounds. Matthew Wright added nine poins, Roger Pogoy eight, Gabe Norwood seven, and point guards Kevin Alas and Kiefer Ravena six each.
However, Gilas naturalized player Andray Blatche was held to eight points on 3-of-11 shooting and eight boards.
Gilas didn't help its cause by missing 12 of its 19 free throws. It also went just 5-of-19 from three-point land.
AUSTRALIA 84 — Gliddon 16, Brandt 13, Creek 12, Lisch 12, Kay 7, Hodgson 6, Kickert, 5, Norton 4, Wagstaff 4, Cadee 2, Sobey 2, McCarron 1
GILAS PILIPINAS 68 — Fajardo 15, Wright 9, Blatche 8, Pogoy 8, Norwood 7, Alas 6, Ravena 6, Abueva 5, Aguilar 2, Tratter 2, Cruz 0, Maliksi 0.
Quarterscores: 19-19, 37-32, 63-49, 84-68.