By REYNALD MAGALLON
Dwight Ramos showed the way as Gilas Pilipinas vented its ire on the hapless India, 79-63, to wrap up the first stage of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on a high note at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday, July 3.
Still licking its wounds from a tough blowout loss TO New Zealand and the grueling trip back home, Gilas showed resilience and completed redemption as the Filipinos used a strong first half to create the sizeable margin which they never relinquished until the final buzzer, much to the delight of good-sized home crowd in the venue.
Ramos was at the forefront of the attack for Gilas, bouncing back from a dismal six-point outing against the Tall Blacks with 21 big points and five rebounds while Kiefer Ravena and Will Navarro added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Carl Tamayo, who played through pain due to an ankle injury he sustained in the game against New Zealand, added nine points and nine rebounds while Geo Chiu was solid against the towering Indians with five points and 11 boards.
The Filipinos finished second in the Group A standings with an even 2-2 record while India wound up winless in the first stage of the qualifiers although will still advance to the next round following the disqualification of South Korea. New Zealand topped the group with a pristine 4-0 record.
Gilas utilized its speed and quickness against the much-taller but slower Indians, banking on the Filipinos on-ball pressure to play the passing lanes and force multiple turnovers in the first half. Gilas made sure to capitalize on those turnovers with spitfire guards in Ravena, Ramos and even SJ Belangel and RJ Abarrientos leading the transition attacks.
As the dust settled, India finished the game with 24 turnovers which Gilas converted into 20 points off turnovers. The Filipinos also dominated the Indians on all fronts, having more assists (22-13), steals (16-8) and surprisingly even in rebounding (50-42).
Muin Bek Hafeez paced India with 13 points while Sahaij Pratap Singh Sekhon and Arvind Kumar Muthu Krishnan added 12 markers apiece
Gilas led by as much as 24 points, 65-41, late in the third quarter, although India still showed some fight halfway through the final frame even cutting the lead down to 15, 69-54. The comeback bid however proved to be short lived as timely hits from Will Navarro and Francis Lopez restored order and slammed the door on India.