Smart Gilas-Pilipinas breezed past Bahrain, 113-71, to book a seat in the second round of the 26th FIBA-Asia Championship For Men Saturday at the Wuhan gymnasium in Wuhan, China.
Gilas jumped the gun on their opponents but didn’t really put the Baihrainis away until they came through with a huge run opening the second half. Halftime ended at 51-40.
Big man Japeth Aguilar came off the bench and sparked a 20-0 Gilas run at the start of the third quarter to pull away for good. They enjoyed a 70-40 advantage midway in the third.
Aguilar scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds—all in the second half—to lead the way for the Nationals, who won two of their three games to finish as the No. 2 team in Group D.
"I just want to help the team and help it in anyway," said Aguilar, the former Western Kentucky University stalwart, who scored 14 points in Gilas’ third-quarter break away.
They now advance to the second round and will be joined by China, United Arab Emirates, Group C qualifiers Japan, Jordan and Syria in Group F.
"We used this game to give some confidence on our players," said coach Rajko Toroman. “We put in all of our players in some kind of warm up for the next round."
Marcus Douthit added 18 points and nine rebounds, JV Casio tallied 15 markers, Asi Taulava and Ranidel de Ocampo finished with 13 each while Mac Baracael and skipper Chris Tiu scored 11 and 10 apiece for the Nationals, who shot 37-of-55 from the field for a 67 percent clip.
Three more players fielded in by Toroman scored two points or more as Gilas await the fate of Filipino-American guards Chris Lutz and Marcio Lassiter, declared ineligible to play by tournament organizers owing to a technicality in their Filipino citizenship.
"If these two guys (Lutz and Lassiter) will join us in the next round, we will be competitive," said Toroman.
The tournament takes a break on Sunday before resuming with the 12-team second round on Monday. — JVP, GMA News