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Gilas Dominates Hong Kong in FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers

February 22, 2024, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Sar, China: FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers Hong Kong vs Philippines basketball in Tseun Copyright: xJaynexRussellx / IMAGO

Gilas Pilipinas won its first game at the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers by beating Hong Kong 94-64. The game was played at the Tsuen Wan Stadium in front of a predominantly Filipino crowd.

Justin Brownlee starred in the victory, filling up the score sheet with 16 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. Kai Sotto also had a solid performance, dominating the paint with a double-double performance of 13 points and 15 rebounds. 

The other Gilas players to net double-digit returns were Karl Quiambao, who had 15 points, three rebounds, and two assists and Jamie Malonzo who chipped in with 11 points.

Shiu Wah Leung top scored for Hong Kong, making 15 points while teammates Oliver Xu, Duncan Reid, and Sui Hung Yeung added 13, 12, and 12 points, respectively.

Overall Gilas shot 47% from the field, this included 9-of-25 shooting from beyond the arc. Hong Kong was only able to muster 23 out of 70 field goals but were better from three, making 10 out of 32. 

The Philippines were solid from the charity stripe, going 11 for 13 to the 8 of 10 from Hong Kong. The real imbalance however occurred with rebounding as the Philippines outrebounded Hong Kong, 56-32.  

Since Tim Cone was officially appointed to the role of Philippine’s men’s basketball Head Coach in late January, the team has been on quite the tear. His nomination came after he was able to take the Philippines on their gold medal run at the Hangzhou Asian Games last year as interim coach. This is the fourth time Cone has been in charge of the national team.

With Jordan Clarkson unavailable at the moment due to NBA games, there is also improvement left to be had on the team. Clarkson will likely join the team in the offseason for qualifiers.

All these games should come as good practice for the big tournaments in the back end of the year. The Philippines will play in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Riga, Latvia with the hopes of securing a place for Paris 2024.

Game Summary

The Philippines started the game off strong opening up a 9-0 lead. Hong Kong were able to quickly recover however and even take the lead 30-29 in the second quarter. The lead didn’t last long though, as Gilas ended the half up four points. It should be noted that Hong Kong outscored the visiting team 18-22 in the second quarter.

It was the third quarter that broke the game wide open. Gilas was able to pour in 30 points while their defense took over and restricted Hong Kong to just 9 points. The shift in momentum came by attacking the middle and finding Kai Sotto who was able to live in the paint. The big third quarter included 12 unanswered points from 53-45 to 65-45 towards the end of the quarter which put the game on ice.

From there the Pilipinas were able to hold out the game and win rather easily, sealing the first qualifier. Hong Kong could never really get their offense going in the second half, unable to take care of the ball and get into scoring areas. Though the contest was fairly one-sided, Hong Kong was able to stick with the Philippines in the first half and will take pride in the fact that they were neck and neck with one of the favourites.

Gilas will now go on to face Chinese Taipei in their second qualifier on Sunday, February 25 at 7:30pm at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City. New Zealand beat Chinese Taipei 89-69 in the other Group B qualifying game on Thursday.

Based on current form, Gilas will be heavy favourites to take the game but will be weary of taking their opponents too lightly. If they play with the same intensity on defense as they did in the Hong Kong game however, Chinese Taipei should find it hard to stay with them.

Expected Squad: Justin Brownlee, CJ Perez, Scottie Thompson, Jamie Malonzo, Calvin Oftana, Chris Newsome, Japeth Aguilar, Kevin Quiambao, Carl Tamayo, Dwight Ramos, Kai Sotto