DIGOS CITY - Jeff Chan hit a tough, fallaway jumper with .6 of a second left to salvage a 124-124 tie for Gilas Pilipinas in Sunday's match against the PBA All-Stars played before a packed crowd at the Davao del Sur Coliseum.
Chan faked off Alex Cabagbot then launched the three-pointer that saved a measure of pride for the national team which had trailed the All-Star selection by six points inside the final 26 seconds and by twin digits in the second half.
The deadlock turned out to be a justified scoreline in an entertaining game that saw plenty of highlight-reel plays from both sides and kept the sellout crowd on its feet up until the final second.
At the same time, the game once again put in full display the never-say-die spirit of Gilas, which had pulled off come-from-behind victories on the way to the Jones Cup title in Taipei last year.
Chan and Arwind Santos of the PBA All-Stars were later named the game's co-MVPs.
As entertaining the match was, Gilas coach Chot Reyes said the game unmasked the national squad’s weakness, which is defense.
“There’s a lot of cause for concern because the game exposed our inability to play defense. We’ve just been practicing once a week and in those practices, it’s all (about) offense,” said Reyes.
“We scored well but we couldn’t play defense. But at least, the players know what we need to work on now. At 124 points, we should have been blowing out teams,” he added.
Gilas Pilipinas missed the services of veteran playmaker Jimmy Alapag, who strained his calf muscle during the team’s Saturday night practice at the coliseum.
On the other hand, Reyes opted to rest naturalized big man Marcus Douthit due to back spasms, though he hopes to play him on Monday night when Gilas battles the visiting Shanghai Sharks at the Mall of Asia Arena.
PBA All-Stars (124) – Santos 27, Canaleta 20, Cabagnot 15, Belga 15, Ellis 9, Abueva 9, Casio 9, Baguio 9, Lassiter 6, Caguioa 3, Yap 2.
Gilas Pilipinas (124) – Fonacier 18, David 17, De Ocampo 14, Thoss 11, Castro 11, Pingris 10, Tenorio 10, Norwood 10, Chan 9, Fajardo 9, Aguilar 5.
Quarterscores: 31-33; 65-66; 95-89; 124-124.