GILAS Pilipinas was all business from start to finish, riding on its outside snipers and crisp ball movement to turn back the challenge of the PBA All-Star Selection, 101-93 at the close of the PBA All-Star week on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 25th edition of the All-Star though was tough and competitive as promised by PBA All-Star coach Tim Cone and Gilas coach Chot Reyes, giving fans a glimpse of the latest edition of the national team bound for the Fiba World Cup and the Asian Games.
The national squad, which is playing together for the first time since a silver medal finish in the Fiba Asia men’s championships last August, built leads as big as 18 points behind Jeff Chan and Gary David, who drained a combined seven three-point shots in the game.
David went on to win All-Star Game MVP honors.
Although the All-Star selection made a run late in the game with Cone's small lineup that had forward KG Canaleta as the man in the middle, the Gilas squad simply had better cohesion and endgame poise, leading to the eight-point victory.
Reyes later expressed his gratitude to All-Stars coach Cone for giving them the much-needed “push” despite the fact that Sunday’s game was just exhibition in nature.
“I’d like to express my appreciation to coach Tim. They (All-Star) defended us well, they kept showing us different looks and they ran some stuffs that we’ll be able to see in the international competition,” Reyes said after the game.
“I think this game can really help us. It may just be one game but to us it means a lot.”
Chan led the national squad with 17 points, while David fired nine of his 15 points in the second half to earn the nod for All-Star MVP honors.
Reyes also praised San Miguel Beer slotman June Mar Fajardo for playing a “complete game” against the PBA All-Stars, showing that he has already adjusted to his system well after playing limited minutes in the Fiba-Asia showpiece last year.
“June Mar was very comfy around his teammates and he played an all-around game tonight,” the outspoken Gilas coach added.
Reyes also took notice of the team’s good ball movement, resulting in 28 assists which he said is very critical as the Gilas squad builds up for the Fiba World Cup in Spain and the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea later in the year.
The PBA All-Stars, which held Gilas to a 124-all standoff in last year’s edition in Digos City, Davao de Sur, were led by Marcio Lassiter with 12 points and Greg Slaughter’s double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Gilas 101- Chan 17, David 15, Fajardo 13, Castro 12, De Ocampo 7, Norwood 7, Aguilar 7, Lee 5, Dillinger 4, Fonaicer 3, Pingris 1, Alapag 0, Tenorio 0, Belga 0
PBA All-Stars 93 - Lassiter 12, Slaughter 11, Simon 9, Thoss 8, Barroca 8, Yap 8, Ellis 7, Devance 6, Baracael 6, Abueva 6, Canaleta 3