PAUL Lee and Gary David provided the much-needed firepower in the second half as Gilas Pilipinas recovered from a poor third quarter to ambush Chinese Taipei, 78-64 and kick off its Fiba Asia Cup campaign on a winning note on Saturday in Wuhan, China.
After seeing its once imposing 16-point lead evaporate and eventually trail, 50-44 late in the third period, Lee - carrying his maternal name Dalistan at the back of his jersey - and David joined hands to put Gilas back in command with a strong fourth quarter.
Gilas rode on a furious 21-6 exchange bridging the third and fourth periods behind Lee and David’s three-point shooting, helping the Filipinos overhaul that six-point deficit and establish a 67-56 lead with under three minutes left.
The Filipinos, who are using the Fiba Asia Cup as part of its buildup for the Fiba World Cup and Asian Games, finished the game with 10 three-point shots, with Lee and David combining for seven against a Taipei team that beat Gilas in the last Fiba-Asia championships in Manila.
Ranidel de Ocampo 11 points and five rebounds, while naturalized center Marcus Douthit chipped in eight rebounds and 16 rebounds, while limiting Chinese Taipei’s own naturalized big man Quincy David III to just seven points.
Gilas (1-0) faces Singapore on Monday.
Chinese Taipei, one of just two teams to inflict a loss to Gilas in last year’s Fiba Asia men’s championships in Manila, dropped to an even 1-1 win-loss record.
The Taiwanese, without the top players from the team that beat Gilas in Manila last year, opened the Asia Cup with an 85-63 smashing of Jordan on Friday.