GILAS Pilipinas finally showed flashes of its true potential while playing with a near-complete lineup, smothering the Mapua Cardinals, 97-78, in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup on Monday in San Juan.
With Fil-American forward Troy Rike, San Beda star Robert Bolick and Ateneo mainstays Thirdy Ravena and Matt Nieto reinforcing the lineup, the cadets looked so much different from the team that lost five of its first seven games.
A tough-fighting Cardinals stayed within one, 65-64 near the end of the third quarter, but Gilas turned on the heat in the fourth behind the hot hands of Bolick, who scored 10 of his 13 points during that stretch.
Successive three-pointers from Kenneth Tuffin and Carl Tamayo finished off the Cardinals.
“I experimented with some things, I played with three bigs, it worked. With the way it looks, we look more like a team now,” said coach Jong Uichico, who credited the arrival of guards Nieto and Bolick for the improved form.
“That’s when the point guard comes in. Settle down, control the tempo when things aren’t going well. The point guard is really important to the team,” he added.
Kobe Paras finished with 12 points and two blocks for Gilas while Rike added 11 points and eight boards in his debut. The Ateneo tandem of Nieto and Ravena also played well, combining for 17 points.
Cedric Pelayo and Eric Jabel led the way for the Cardinals with 14 points apiece while Lawrence Victoria added 12 points and eight assists.
GILAS 97 – Bolick 13, Paras 12, Rike 11, Nieto 9, Ravena 8, Tuffin 8, Tamayo 6, Alejandro 5, Sotto 5, Gozum 5, Tratter 4, Go 4, Tolentino A. 4, Mocon 3, Tolentino V. 0
MAPUA 78 – Pelayo 14, Jabel 14, Victoria 12, Aguirre 11, Lugo 9, Biteng 6, Bonifacio 5, Bunag 5, Gamboa 2, Nocum 0, Pajarillo 0, Serrano 0
Quarterscores: 25-21, 49-38, 72-64, 97-78