FOR one half, Gilas Pilipinas gave its fans a glimmer of hope against a heavily favored Australia squad at the start of the second window of the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers.
But when the Boomers showed their might in the second half, the little cracks started to break and a game that started with so much promise turned into a 68-84 loss in Melbourne on Thursday.
After leading 26-21 early in the second period, Gilas saw the Australians storm back and close the half strong to regain the advantage, 37-32, at the break.
The five-point deficit despite Gilas making just 1-of-7 free throws at the half was considered a good sign, but it turned out to be one of the things that doomed the Philippine team. Here are some key stats and facts that led to Gilas’ first loss in the World Cup qualifiers:
Free throws: Gilas ended up making just 7-of-19 from the free throw line, a horrible 37 percent clip. Australia, on the other hand, shot 78% after making 25-of-32 freebies. One of the Australians even matched the entire Philippine team output from the stripe, as AJ Brandt exploited gaps in the Gilas pick-and-roll defense to make seven of 10 free throws.
Rebounds: The Philippines came in averaging more rebounds per game with 47 boards than Australia (42.5). But the Boomers, who had the taller lineup, capitalized on its size advantage to overcome its sub-par shooting to grab 16 offensive boards against Gilas’ seven. Australia ended up with a 50-30 advantage in rebounds. Two players for Australia had double-digit rebounds, while Blatche led Gilas with seven boards.
Assists: The Boomers also showed superior chemistry and teamwork by dominating the assists department, 16-8. Jason Cadee, Australia’s top assists man, had five while no Gilas player had more than two.
Bench points: Australia took advantage of a Gilas side missing top players due to injuries with a 43-23 bench scoring edge. Brandt and naturalized player Kevin Lisch outscored the entire Gilas bench with 13 and 12 markers, respectively. RR Pogoy, Kevin Alas and Calvin Abueva combined for 19 of Gilas’ 23 bench points.
Three-point shooting: Gilas did a decent job in limiting Australia to 33% (7-of-21) from three-point country after it averaged 10 triples on 45% shooting. But after Pogoy’s two triples in the first quarter, Gilas only managed to add three more treys for the entire game, ending up with a 5-of-19 clip from beyond the arc. Credit goes to Australia’s scouting as top Gilas sniper Matthew Wright managed to hit a triple only in the fourth quarter, with the defense smothering him early soon as he gets the ball from three-point territory.