It just might be that Gilas really is getting better.
Gilas Pilipinas showed out in its closed-door tune-up game versus fellow FIBA World Cup participant Ivory Coast, beating the African nation, 85-62, on Friday night at the PhilSports Arena.
It was a dominant win for Gilas to say the least, and here are some numbers that point to why the Jordan Clarkson-led squad was able to cruise to a big victory.
That’s how well Gilas shot from the field on Friday night, as it hit 31 of 56 shots overall. The national team was blistering from two-point range, going 24-for-34 thanks mostly to big men June Mar Fajardo, Kai Sotto, and AJ Edu, who shot 13-for-17 on two-pointers. All three also finished in double figures.
One reason Gilas shot so well is the 19 assists it recorded, and that is thanks in part to the return of Scottie Thompson. The reigning PBA MVP dished off a game-high 5 assists—including back-to-back dimes to Fajardo in Gilas’ fiery third quarter. In all, 11 of the 13 players coach Chot Reyes fielded in recorded at least 1 assist.
That is Thompson’s stat line against Ivory Coast—11 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 block. It is by no means eye-popping, but it is the kind of all-around brilliance he can bring to the table for Gilas as its chief orchestrator.
That, on the other hand, is Edu’s final stat line, and it continues his string of strong showings dating back to Gilas’ games in China. He also started versus Ivory Coast, underscoring what is likely Reyes’ increasing trust on the young Fil-Am.
Gilas started Clarkson, Edu, Japeth Aguilar, Dwight Ramos, and RR Pogoy, and this starting unit gave the team a good start, winning the first quarter, 27-24. But, at least in this game, it was Gilas’ bench that really powered the team, with the trio of Thompson, Sotto, and Fajardo alone contributing 34 points. In the games that count, Gilas will need a complete team effort, and this performance from its bench should be an encouraging sign.
Gilas will next take on Montenegro on Sunday in another closed-door tune-up, before rounding out its FIBA World Cup preparations versus Mexico on Monday.