GILAS Pilipinas shrugged off a late scare as it dumped Chinese Taipei, 90-77, to rule the Master Game Face MVP Cup on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The National dribblers led comfortably throughout, but saw their lead get trimmed to single digit in the last four minutes, before proving steady in the endgame to complete a three-game sweep of the pocket tournament.
Andray Blatche, looking better conditioned, led a balanced effort with 18 points and 12 boards, while Asi Taulava added 13 points and six boards in just nine minutes for Gilas, which refused to pull its punches even after already securing the crown on Saturday.
But it was Calvin Abueva and Ranidel de Ocampo who prevented Gilas from suffering meltdown.
De Ocampo scored his only three points on a three-pointer that put an end to a 14-2 run by the Taiwanese that cut their lead to just eight points, before Abueva added a basket off an offensive rebound that ended any Taipei hopes of a comeback.
“We controlled the game, but it’s not a fair gauge of where we are right now,” national coach Tab Baldwin said after seeing Taiwanese stalwart Quincy Davis play limited minutes in the second half.
“Still, (the MVP Cup) was successful because we had a good challenge and good games,” he added.
Cheng-Ju Lu fired a game-high 23 points, including a triple that nudged the Taiwanese to within 83-75 after they trailed their largest at 81-61.
GILAS 90 – Blatche 18, Taulava 13, Romeo 12, Abueva 11, Pingris 8, Hontiveros 7, Intal 6, Ganuelas 6, De Ocampo 3, David 3, Thoss 2, Norwood 1
TAIPEI 77 – Lu 23, Chen 11, Lui 10, Tien 9, Tsai 8, Chen 8, Chen 6, Davis 2, Hung 0, Wu 0
Quarterscores: 27-15, 46-34, 73-59, 90-77