The stellar performance of Andray Blatche and Jayson Castro powered Gilas Pilipinas to an 82-70 win over Lebanon in the 28th FIBA Asia Championship at the Changsha Social Worker gymnasium in Changsha, China. The Philippines will now meet Japan in the semifinals today at 9:30 p.m.
The 6’11 naturalized Filipino Blatche, after struggling in previous games, finally regained his form posting 24 points via 8-of-14 shooting in the field plus 17 rebounds and two blocks. Castro, who shot 10-of-17 in the field finished with 25 points including five triples while guard Terrence Romeo notched 10 points
including important baskets in the fourth quarter foiling the Lebanon’s last minute rally. Power forward Jean Marc Pingris contributed eight points and four rebounds. Despite being booed by the majority Chinese crowd, the Filipinos kept their fighting spirit throughout the game. China, on the other hand, will face a powerhouse Iran in the semifinals after routing India
104-58 in the quarterfinals. Gilas established a 20-16 lead at the end of first quarter and stretched it to 37-32 at the end of the first half. The Lebanese couldn’t match the Filipinos’ accurate shooting in the second half resulting in a 49-57 deficit by the end of third quarter. Lebanon’s Jasmon Jovan Youngblood, who was limited to only 12 points, hit a three-pointer to narrow the gap 57-61 with only 6:56 to go in the final canto. But a 13-5 run highlighted by Castro’s fifth triple brought back the Filipinos’ lead to double-digit 74-62 with 2:13 remaining.
Gilas just allowed the remaining minutes to expire until the buzzer sounded. The Philippine team under the tutelage of Tab Baldwin registered more three-point shots (9-6), rebounds (44-40) and steals (9-3) than the Lebanese under coach Vaselin Matic.