Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tim Cone demanded another stellar effort from his players during the 19th Asian Games. On Friday evening he got a performance that will be talked about for a long time.
The Philippines rolled past Jordan, 70-60, to rule the men’s basketball show at China’s Hangzhou Olympic Center Gymnasium and give the country its first Asian Games gold in more than half a century.
Justin Brownlee was big again, spreading 20 points for Gilas Pilipinas. Ange Kouame added 14, Chris Newsome had 13 and Scottie Thompson 11 in the try that avenged a defeat at the hands of the Falcons last weekend.
“Our guys were just very disciplined tonight,” Cone told reporters amid the din of celebration. “It was just a good game from us tonight and they (Jordan) had a bad shooting night.”
It was that defeat in the preliminary round that forced Gilas Pilipinas to play an extra match in the tournament. But looking back, the long route gave Cone and the team exactly what they needed for a match without tomorrow for the top prize.
Gilas defeated Qatar, outlasted Iran and stunned China to become one cohesive team worthy of taking down a well-oiled foe eager to achieve a milestone for itself.
That improvement was on full display on Friday evening, when the Philippines managed to take a lead of no less than 13 points.
“I think we did a good job of recovering (Sami) Bzai, not letting him get a lot of looks, and that was one of the keys,” Cone said.
“I know it’s not gold for Jordan. It would have been their first. Good for both of us,” he added with a grin.
Both sides started slowly in a first quarter full of mistakes, with the Philippines taking a 17-12 lead, but Jordan, looking for his first Asian title, rallied to go into halftime at 31-31.
The momentum shifted back to the Philippines in the third quarter and they took a 51-41 lead in the home stretch and then held their nerve for a famous victory.
The victory gave the Philippines their fifth gold medal. The last came in 1962 in Jakarta, Indonesia, courtesy of a crew led by the late Fiba Hall of Famer Carlos Loyzaga.
The Nationals’ last podium finish – a bronze medal – came in 1998, when Cone also led the way.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 24 points, but with Freddy Ibrahim the only other Jordan player to score in double figures, the Falcons had to settle for silver – an achievement in itself, compared to the country’s paltry five appearances in the quadrennial showpiece. –with reports from Agence France-Presse