GILAS PILIPINAS engineered a second quarter breakaway and then survived a late fightback by Shanghai Sharks to prevail, 80-72, in the first of two featured matches in the Philippines-China Friendship Games Monday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Nationals banked on 10-0 run in the second period to pull away before staving off a comeback try by the visiting Sharks.
Members of Gilas' cadet training pool made a good account of themselves and blended well with pro players who are part of the national pool along with naturalized player Marcus Douthit.
On Tuesday, the Sharks test the mettle of the PBA selection in the final leg of the Goodwill Games at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
National coach Chot Reyes praised the way his Gilas team played against the much-taller Chinese professional ball club owned by former Houston Rockets star Yao Ming.
“The program was in full display tonight for the team of pros of Gilas to be able to play with the cadets almost seamlessly,” said Reyes. “I think this is a testament of the direction the program is taking.”
Gary David erupted for four triples to topscore for Gilas with 14 points, while Japeth Aguilar, June Mar Fajardo, and Gabe Norwood added 11 apiece.
Cadet training pool member Garvo Lanete also joined the fray with 10 points and hit two triples.
Leading 20-17, the Nationals upped their lead by scoring 10 straight unanswered points, 30-17, with cadets Lanete and Matt Ganuelas, teaming up with Aguilar and Norwood during the pivotal run.
The Nationals increased their lead to 71-52 on a Lanete triple in the third, until Shanghai finally got its bearings and closed in after scoring 10 unanswered points.
Aguilar soared for a slam dunk over Shanghai center Zhang Zhaoxu for a 77-66 lead, but the Sharks were able to cut the deficit to within 77-72.
But Aguilar stopped the Sharks’ onslaught with a lay-up with only a minute left to clinch it for Gilas.
The Sharks will play the PBA selection in the final leg of the goodwill games presented by TV5, Mall of Asia Arena, Smart-Araneta Coliseum, ATC Health Care Corporation, Friends of the Philippines Foundation, Vikings Restaurant, Oishi, Anchorland Holdings, and Orocan on Tuesday at the Big Dome.
Gilas-Pilipinas (80) -- David 14, Aguilar 11, Fajardo 11, Norwood 11, Lanete 10, Chan 9, Garcia 8, Ganuelas 2, Douthit 2, Slaughter 2, R. Pascual 0, J. Pascual 0, Alas 0.
Shanghai Sharks (72) -- Zhaoxu 17, Lingyuan 14, Ligang 11, Yang G. 9, Sizhang 8, Laing 6, Yuan 3, Yang Wu 2, Yi 2, Ziqui 0.
Quarterscores: 20-14; 43-30; 71-52; 80-72.