CHANGSHA - National coach Tab Baldwin paid tribute to his 'energy guys' Marc Pingris and Calvin Abueva for providing the spark that allowed Gilas Pilipinas to put away India, 99-65, on Tuesday in the Fiba Asia Championship.
Gilas, clearly lacking in energy after an emotional 87-73 win over defending champion Iran the day before, allowed India to stay in the game in the first half up until the early minutes of the third quarter.
That was when Pingris and Abueva stepped up and prevented a sticky situation for Gilas from turning worse.
"Our energy guys kept us in the game," a visibly relieved Baldwin said after a second-half tear enabled Gilas to sweep its second-round assignments and enter the knockout rounds as the top seed from Group E.
Pingris scored 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting to go with four rebounds and two steals in his finest game in the tournament so far. He scored all but two of those points in the third quarter to help Gilas break the game wide open, 65-50.
On the other hand, Abueva was once again a bundle of energy in his 19 minutes off the bench, scoring 12 points to go with seven rebounds.
"Our energy guys kinda kept us in the game, kept us with our noses in front in the game," said Baldwin. "They gave us a lot of energy and they gave us good results, pressure defense, and turning that into transition baskets."
Gilas will need more of that energy in the knockout rounds beginning in the quarterfinals, where, as top seed, it will likely face either Jordan or Lebanon.
Baldwin knows the enormity of the task.
"Now the games are tough, all the opponents are tough (in the playoffs)," said the Gilas coach.