Naturalized player Andray Blatche regained his deadly form to help Gilas Pilipinas outplay Taiwan, 90-77, and bag the First MVP Cup title on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot-11 Blatche posted 18 points along with 12 rebounds and a block while guard Terrence Romeo had 12 points, five rebounds and four assists, and veteran Paul Asi Taulava added 13 points and six rebounds for Gilas.
Alaska’s Calvin Abueva contributed 11 points and six rebounds.
“I just want to say thank you to New Zealand, Taiwan and Talk N’ Text. It is not by winning but helping us in our preparation for FIBA Asia,” said Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin. “We controlled the game and I’m very happy with the results of all games.”
The Philippines took a commanding 27-15 advantage at the end of first period with Blatche, a former National Basketball Association forward who played for the Washington Wizards and the Brooklyn Nets, scoring 11 points.
Gilas Pilipinas kept the game under control in the second frame as Romeo scored three straight baskets to maintain a double-digit lead at halftime 46-34.
The nationals were threatened in the fourth quarter when Taiwanese Lu Cheng Ju hit five straight three-pointers that silenced the home crowd and narrowed the gap to 75-84.
But the nationals were able to maintain their composure in the remaining minutes on the way to their third consecutive win in the pocket tournament.
Lu led the Taiwanese with 23 points with six triples.
In the first game, New Zealand’s Wellington Saints clobbered the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters 101-78 to close out their campaign with a 2-1 win-loss record.
Josh Bloxham led the Saints with 20 points and eight rebounds, while Mitchell Newton had 19 points and Justin Richards Edwards posted 18 pounds.
Top overall pick Moala Tautuaa led the Texters with 26 points and six rebounds.
Gilas Pilipinas is preparing for the 28th FIBA Asia Championship Olympic Qualifying tournament on September 23 to October 3 in Changsha, China.