SEVILLE, SPAIN - Chants of 'Gilas, Gilas' filled the Centro Deportivo San Pablo Pavilion as the Philippines dominated the first half, 44-39, of its Fiba World Cup game against Puerto Rico on Wednesday.
An 18-0 run bridging the first two quarters enabled Gilas to open a 27-13 lead in a stretch that saw Paul Lee and Andray Blatche hit three-pointers and Marc Pingris grab two key offensive rebounds had Pinoy fans scenting the Philippines' first win at this level since 1974.
Blatche was unstoppable in the paint, scoring seven points and grabbing five rebounds while dominating banned PBA import Renaldo Balkman, while point guard LA Tenorio set the tone with nine first-quarter points.
Puerto Rico, without starters Carlos Arroyo and Angel Vassallo, finally got untracked in the second quarter behind JJ Barea to keep Gilas within sight at halftime.
Balkman was benched for a long stretch and played just seven minutes.
Ten turnovers proved the biggest undoing for Gilas, which dominated the Puerto Ricans in almost all departments after making 53 percent of its shots (16-of-30) and grabbing more rebounds 17-12.