Gilas Pilipinas fed off the energy of the hometown crowd and uncorked a big third-quarter run to rally past stubborn Jordan, 77-71, to notch their second win in the FIBA Asia Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Trailing by as many as 11 points in the second period and still behind by six at 42-36 with 7:55 left in the third period, the Nationals, boosted by a boisterous crowd, dropped a telling 17-0 blast to seize a 53-42 lead and take control of the game for good.
Shooter Jeff Chan waxed hot from the outside all game long while pint-sized Jayson Castro ran rings around his defenders as the two combined for 33 points and helped fuel that big third-quarter rally that left the Jordanians stunned.
Jordan rallied to within six a couple of times in the fourth, but Jimmy Alapag buried a dagger triple with 1:45 left to push Gilas ahead 73-64 and virtually seal the win.
Although Jordan is missing the services of ace playmaker Sam Daghlas, forward Zaid Abbas and former naturalized player Rasheim Wright, the Nationals gained some measure of vengeance against the Middle East squad that knocked them out in the semifinals of the same tourney in Wuhan.
Gilas goes for a sweep of Group A against Chinese Taipei in what is expected to be a highly emotional match. Jordan fell to 0-2 and needs to beat Saudi Arabia to advance to the next round.
The Main Man: Jayson Castro William is not called “The Blur” for nothing.
Although standing a mere 5-foot-11, the Talk ‘N Text guard dazzled his Jordanian defenders throughout as he finished with 16 points, seven coming in that decisive 17-0 blast in the third canto.
Aside from his offensive prowess, Castro also put the clamps down on counterpart Wesam Al-Sous, who could only score two in the second half after racking up 11 points in the first half.
Honorable Mentions: For the second straight game, Jeff Chan provided the needed firepower from beyond the arc for Gilas Pilipinas.
The southpaw gunner of Rain or Shine waxed hot with a team-high 17 markers, highlighted by five big triples including a big one that ignited the team’s breakaway in the third canto.
Also coming up big for the Nationals was Gabe Norwood, who had a solid all-around outing of eight points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and as many blocks in 37 minutes of action.
More importantly, the 6-foot-5 Rain or Shine forward also made life miserable for Jordan’s naturalized guard Jimmy Baxter, who could only come up with 14 points after sizzling with 30 in the team’s 87-91 setback against Chinese-Taipei.
Game Turning Point: Pouncing on the Nationals’ slow start, the Jordanians banked on the exploits of Wesam Al-Sous and forward Mohammad Hadrab in taking an early 20-9 cushion.
Jordan restored its big advantage late in the second canto off a lay-up by Mohammad Shaher Hussein for a 36-25 edge, keeping the Nationals and the considerable crowd relatively stunned into the break.
The Nationals, however, showed up with fire in their eyes in the third, wiping out a 36-42 deficit by scoring 17 unanswered points, capped by back-to-back buckets from forward Japeth Aguilar.
Two made freebies by the 6-foot-9 Aguilar gave Gilas its biggest lead at 61-47 early in the fourth canto before the Jordanians kept coming back and pulled within six off Hadrab’s pair of charities with 2:03 to play.
Calm and composed, skipper Jimmy Alapag restored order on the Nationals by hitting a clutch corner triple for a 73-64 cushion.
Jordan scored the next four points, still entertaining some glimmer of hope going to the last 35 seconds, but Gary David and Castro nailed four big free throws to put the result beyond the doubt.
They Said It:
Jeff Chan: “Malaking tulong talaga ‘yung crowd kasi nakakapag-boost ng energy.”
Jayson Castro: “Sobrang relaxed ‘yung depensa namin nung first half. Pero nung second half, lahat ng player nag-usap-usap na.”
Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes: “The crowd really gave us a big lift. Gabe Norwood did a hell of a job against Jimmy Baxter tonight. (Mohammad) Hadrab really hurt us in the first half. He (Castro) struggled at the start so I pulled him out after making a couple of mistakes. He settled down when he came back in and we saw his real game. Aside from his ablity to put the pressure defensively, he also puts the offensive pressure against the other team.”
Jordan coach Evangelos Alexandris: “We are an inexeperenced team. We made some progress in the last two months. But it’s hard to play before these raucous fans. I believe we can get better and better in the future. They (Filipinos) made threes and the atmosphere was against us. We missed easy baskets and had easy turnovers.”
Philippines (77) - Chan 17, Castro 16, De Ocampo 11, Douthit 11, Norwood 8, Aguilar 6, Alapag 3, Tenorio 3, David 2, Fajardo 0, Fonacier 0, Pingris 0.
Jordan (71) - Hadrab 19, Baxter 14, Al-Sous 13, Hussein 9, Abdeen 6, Abu Ruqayah 3, Alhamarsheh 3, Abuqoura 2, Zaghab 2, Alnajjar 0, Alfaraj 0.