MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas lived up to expectations as it opened its campaign in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers by annihilating Indonesia.
Parading 5 amateur players in its 12-man lineup, the Philippines nevertheless pulled off a dominant win as it crushed Indonesia, 100-70, on Sunday, February 23, in Jakarta.
Unknown to many, that was exactly what the Filipinos were gunning for, with national team veteran Marc Pingris and team captain Kiefer Ravena issuing a challenge to beat the Indonesians by "30 to 40 points."
"People think that we may be overconfident for having that type of goal but you want to set the standards high, especially for the young ones," Ravena told reporters a day before flying to Jakarta.
They did not disappoint.
After a nip-and-tuck battle in the first 28 minutes that saw Indonesia trail by only 4 points, 51-55, Gilas Pilipinas found its footing and unloaded a 12-2 run to mount a 67-53 lead going into the final quarter.
It was all Philippines from there as it outscored Indonesia 33-17 in the payoff period en route to the 30-point romp.
The win gave Gilas Pilipinas a 1-0 record in Group A behind undefeated South Korea, which swept the first window for a 2-0 card.
Despite the convincing victory, national team head coach Mark Dickel still found room for improvement.
"We, for the most part, played defense the way we wanted to. Offense will be a work in progress," Dickel said through a text message.
Gilas Pilipinas' postponed match against Thailand for the first window, which was scheduled on February 20, has yet to get a new date.
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.