By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
DOMINANT in its first outing in the November window of the 2021 International Basketball Association (FIBA) Asia Cup Qualifiers, Gilas Pilipinas looks to complete a sweep of Thailand when the teams collide on Monday in Manama, Bahrain.
Opened its bid with a resounding 93-61 victory on Friday, the youth-laden Gilas crew is out to blank the Thais in their two-game series and keep its record in the qualifiers intact.
Ateneo recruit Dwight Ramos led the charge for the Philippines in the first game, finishing with 20 points on a perfect seven-of-seven shooting, to go along with seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.
It was a tight contest in the opening quarter, with the Philippines up by just two points, 21-19.
But Jong Uichico-coached Gilas blew the game wide open after by outscoring the Thais, 32-10, in the second canto and never looked back from there.
Justine Baltazar of La Salle and Juan Gomez de Liano of the University of the Philippines (UP) tallied 12 points apiece for Gilas.
University of the East’s Rey Suerte and UP’s Javi Gomez de Liano, meanwhile, each had nine markers.
For Thailand, which played sans star Tyler Lamb, it was Montien Womgsawangtham who showed the way with 17 points, followed by Nakorn Jaisanuk with 12.
The win pushed the Philippines (2-0) to a share of the lead in Group A of the qualifiers with Korea (2-0) while Thailand, which also lost to Indonesia (1-2), 90-76, on Saturday, now sports a 0-3 record.
“This is a good opportunity to showcase what our young players can do, but we are out to compete and win,” said the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas of its decision to field in a team composed of amateur and collegiate stars in the lead-up to the November window of the Asia Cup qualifiers.
Also part of the Gilas team are Matt and Mike Nieto, Isaac Go, Will Navarro, Calvin Oftana, Kenmark Carino, Dave Ildefonso, Jaydee Tungcab, and Kobe Paras.
In the qualifiers, only the top two teams from the groups advance to the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup in August.
Gilas versus Thailand will be broadcast live over One Sports and ONE Sports+ at 9 p.m. (Manila time).