Gilas Pilipinas' impressive run at the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship continued Tuesday as they defeated India 99-65 to advance to the knockout round as the top seed from Group E.
The Philippines received production throughout its lineup as six players scored in double figures, including guard Terrence Romeo, who led the team with 20 points. Center Andray Blatche added 15 points for Gilas, while India relied on three players to score 50 of its 65 points.
Despite the defeat, India still managed to move on to the knockout stage as well by virtue of Iran blowing out Palestine by a score of 94-48.
India actually led 17-16 after one quarter of play, and it trailed by just six points entering halftime as Gilas struggled to get into a rhythm.
The remainder of the game was all Philippines, however, particularly the fourth quarter, as Gilas outscored India 34-15 and closed the contest on a dominant 28-5 run.
Here is a look at the top highlights from the clash between Gilas and India, courtesy of FIBA's official YouTube account:
Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin praised the fact his team was able to bounce back from a shaky start and bury its opponent just as good teams are supposed to, according to Musong R. Castillo of the Philippines Daily Inquirer: "It was a tough game today and we expected a tough game. We were kind of flat in the first half and again, their zone (defense) contributed to that. But again our energy guys kind of got us through that first half, and as a team, we found a lot of energy in the second half."
The possibility of a letdown was very much present Tuesday after upsetting Iran on Monday, but an experienced Gilas team didn't allow that to happen.
Now that the Philippines have clinched the top spot in Group E, it will move on to face Lebanon in its first game of the knockout stage.
After such an impressive showing, former Philippines national coach Chot Reyes was extremely excited about the team's prospects moving into the final round:
Baldwin certainly seems to be high on his team as well, but he also acknowledged the fact there will be no more walks in the park now that the eight best teams at the FIBA Asia Championship are the only ones left standing.
Per Gerry Ramos of Spin.ph, Baldwin is very much aware of the challenge that lies ahead for his players: "Now the games are tough, all the opponents are tough (in the playoffs)."
Gilas have certainly moved past their opening loss to Palestine, and it can be argued that they are now the favorite to win the FIBA Asia Championship and move on to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Teams like China and Iran will pose stiff challenges, but the Philippines boast an extremely deep roster as evidenced by the contributions of players such as Jayson William, Calvin Abueva, Ranidel de Ocampo and Marc Pingris, all of whom scored at least 12 points Tuesday and offered support to Gilas' stars.
Provided Gilas continue to produce total team efforts like the one they came up with against India, they will be an extremely difficult team to eliminate.
The Filipino national team is truly firing on all cylinders, and if it continues to use the Palestine loss as fuel like it seemingly has for the past several games, its first FIBA Asia Championship title since 1985 and first Olympic appearance since 1972 are very much within reach.
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