DIFFERENT opponent, same hero for Gilas Pilipinas.
Paul Lee once again made a strong case for his inclusion in the Philippine men’s basketball team bound for the World Cup in Spain, coming through down the stretch in the squad’s 70-66 victory over India in the Fiba Asia Cup quarterfinals on Thursday in Wuhan, China.
The Rain or Shine star guard buried two straight three-pointers midway through the final frame that provided the national dribblers a sufficient double-digit buffer to survive a late scare by the towering Indians.
In all, Lee knocked in three triples for a team-high 15 points on top of five rebounds, three assists, and three steals in just 23 minutes off the bench.
Gilas thus arranged a semifinal meeting with powerhouse Iran, the same team that beat the Philippine side in the final of the Fiba Asia championship in Manila last year.
The Iranians, led by NBA center Hamed Hadadi, dispatched Jordan, 75-60, in their own quarterfinal pairing.
Naturalized center Marcus Douthit stood toe to toe with his taller counterparts, tallying 14 points, 12 boards, two steals, one block, and one assist, for Gilas, which enjoyed leads as many as 18 points in the first half and maintained a sizeable cushion in the final 20 minutes before seeing the Indians threaten.
Lee’s second successive and last trey made it 70-54 with five minutes and 15 seconds remaining, but Gilas went scoreless after that, no thanks to misses from the charity stripe and crucial miscues, that allowed India - behind 6-foot-11 slotman Amritpal Singh - to score the game’s last 12 points.
Apart from Lee, only Ranidel de Ocampo and Jay Washington made three-pointers with a combined three for the usually hot-shooting Filipinos, who had three less three-point conversions than India.
Gilas, though, outrebounded their taller opponents, 44-30.
The other semifinal match-up will be between China and Chinese Taipei.
Gilas 70 – Lee 15, Douthit 14, De Ocampo 13, Washington 7, David 6, Alas 5, Dillinger 4, Aguilar 2, Tenorio 2, Fajardo 2, Belga 0, Lanete 0
India 66 – Am. Singh 20, P. Singh 10, Bhriguvanshi 10, J. Singh 9, Ar. Singh 8, Mishra 6, Y. Singh 2, Pethani 1, Grewal 0, Pari 0, Sivakumar 0, Brar 0
Quaterscores: 20-17, 45-33, 60-47, 70-66