Gilas finds tall, hot-shooting China too big a mountain to climb in Fiba Asia final
Gilas naturalized player Andray Blatche couldn't dominate against China's wall of seven-footers led by former NBA teammate Yi Jianlian. Photo from Fiba.com

CHANGSHA, China - A tall, hot-shooting China team proved too big a mountain to climb for Gilas Pilipinas on Saturday night, pulling off a 78-67 victory to deny the Filipinos the Fiba Asia Championship and a trip to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Gilas started strongly but soon found itself hanging on for dear life against a Chinese team that dominated with its sheer size inside and time and again pounced on the Filipinos' zone with a barrage of three-point shots before a boisterous crowd at the Changsha Social Work Colleges Gymnasium.

From the second quarter on, the Philippines found themselves simply trying to stay in the game as it couldn't hit its shots consistently enough from both inside and out against China's gangling defenders and, worse, couldn't seem to get a call from the referees.

Before the first half could end, China had built a 13-point lead, 46-33, and kept a safe distance from Gilas from there to win their 16th Asian championship - and first since the 2011 edition in Wuhan.

On the other hand, Gilas finished runner-up in this biennial tournament for the second successive time, consoling itself with a trip to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in July.

Andray Blatche led Gilas with 17 points, but most of his points came in the second half after the Chinese had built a big lead. Jayson Castro was held to eight points - just three after the first quarter - and made just three of 14 shots.

Overall, the Philippines made just 35 percent of its shots (25 of 65) and just 25% (6 of 24) from three-point range. The nationals also struggled from the free throw line, making just 15 of 26 attempts.

In contrast, the Chinese shot 37.5 percent from the field including 9-of-24 from beyond the arc.

The scores:

China 78 - Guo 19, Q. Zhou 16, Yi 11, Ding 9, Li 9, Zhou 7, Zhao 3, Wang 2, Zhai 2,

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Gilas 67 - Blatche 17, Abueva 9, Romeo 9, Castro 8, de Ocampo 7, Norwood 7, Hontiveros 6, Thoss 4, Intal 0, Ganuelas 0

Quarterscores: 23-19; 46-35; 60-50; 78-67

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