By JONAS TERRADO
Gilas Pilipinas lost a seven-point lead in the final minutes to settle for a 79-all tie with China in their non-televised tune-up match held Wednesday, June 23 at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center in Pampanga.
Live tweets by One Sports inside the Angeles City venue reported that the Chinese cagers were able to salvage a draw when one of their players scored a tip-in at the buzzer following a second free throw was missed with 1.2 seconds remaining.
The result also came after Gilas was ahead by seven twice in the fourth, including a 78-71 lead with over a minute remaining in the game.
But the matter of how things ended for the Filipino cagers will likely be Baldwin’s point of emphasis as they leave tomorrow night for Belgrade, Serbia for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Kai Sotto scored 13 points while naturalized player Ange Kouame and Jordan Heading added 12 points apiece for Gilas.
RJ Abarrientos had nine points, including a mid-range jumper that gave Gilas a 75-68 advantage with 2:54 to go.
Gilas led most of the way against a Chinese side which used the tune-up to prepare for its OQT campaign in Canada.
The Philippines also played sans Dwight Ramos, Gilas’ most consistent player in the recent FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers due to a strain on his groin while Carl Tamayo is still recovering an ankle injury he suffered against Indonesia.
Other players who suited up in the contest were SJ Belangel, Justine Baltazar, Will Navarro, Mike Nieto, Geo Chiu, LeBron Lopez and team captain Isaac Go.