Romeo lifts Gilas Pilipinas past China

August 09, 2017

Sans big men Andray Blatche and June Mar Fajardo, Gilas Pilipinas came up with a huge fight and felled down giant titleholder China, 96-87, in a smashing start in the FIBA Asia Cup at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in BeirutWednesday.

Pocket guard Terrence Romeo dished out the biggest fight, almost singlehandedly tearing China apart in the fourth quarter in what’s easily his best game yet in the international stage.

The whole team played superbly together early on as the Nationals surprisingly dominated the defending champs through the first 42 minutes of play.

Romeo exploded for 26 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter while Christian Standhardinger, Jayson Castro and Matthew Wright contributed at least 12 each as Team Phl avenged its 67-78 loss to China in the title match in Changshan two years ago.

Gilas takes on Iraq at 4 p.m. Friday (9 p.m. Manila time), shooting for a second straight win that could well guarantee its passage into the knockout stage.

A sweep of its next two games against Iraq and Qatar will send the team automatically into the Final Eight.

Already without Blatche and Fajardo, Gilas lost another man on the ejection of Calvin Abueva right in the opening quarter on a flagrant foul on Chinese enforcer Li Gen.

But Romeo, Castro, Standhardinger, Wright, Japeth Aguilar, Raymond Almazan, Gabe Norwood and RR Pogoy just refused to flinch, performing a job that shocked China and the rest of the teams in this Asian meet.

Romeo proved to be the biggest catalyst in this victory.

The GlobalPort star stood his ground in a shootout with Chinese superstar point guard Guo Ailun. And when Guo was gone on fouls, Romeo toyed with even much taller defenders, lobbing three-pointers and weaving through a phalanx of defenders with his dizzying crossover moves.

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He fired 5-of-7 three-pointers, two in a decisive eight-to-nothing roll that put Team Phl back on top, 92-87, after China seized a three-point lead at 87-84.

With the five-point lead, Romeo took a steal to all but break the back of the Chinese team that the Philippines had not beaten in a long while.

A big blow on the Chinese was Castro drawing Guo’s fifth and last foul with 4:40 left in the contest.

Before Guo took the exit, the 6-foot-5 guard had brought China in the contest at 85-84. He top scored for the Chinese with 18 points that went with five assists and one steal.

Gilas played a brilliant first half, executing superbly on both ends to lead by 14 at 53-39 at the turn.

[Photo Source: FIBA Asia.com]

The scores:
Philippines 96 – Romeo 26, Standhardinger 15, Castro 13, Wright 12, Pogoy 9, Almazan 9, Aguilar 7, Norwood 3, Abueva 2, Cruz 0, Jalalon 0.
China 87 – Guo 18, Zhou P. 17, Hu 13, Li 11, Liu 9, Wu 6, Gan 4, Ren 4, Gu 3, Yu 2.
Quarterscores: 26-16, 53-39, 76-70, 96-87