Gilas Pilipinas Comeback from a 20 Point Deficit to defeat China
In a shocking turn of events, Gilas Pilipinas rallied from a 20-point deficit to win a dramatic 77-76 comeback victory against China. This remarkable victory qualified them for the gold medal round of the 19th Asian Games, setting up a highly anticipated clash with Jordan on Wednesday night.
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Justin Brownlee, who took matters into his own hands during vital game periods, was the night’s hero. Brownlee showed steel nerves by hitting two successive high-pressure three-pointers, the last of which gave the national team the lead with only 23 seconds remaining on the clock, finishing off an incredible comeback.
The Chinese squad, who had led by as many as 46-26 at one point, had one more chance to win. However, Zhenlin Zhang’s potential game-winning shot at the buzzer came up short, resulting in ecstatic celebrations among the Gilas squad at midcourt, much to the surprise of the passionate audience gathering at the Hangzhou Olympic Centre.
Brownlee, who ended with a game-high 33 points, demonstrated his talent by scoring 17 points in the crucial fourth quarter. He was especially deadly from beyond the three-point line, making 7 of 12 tries.
“This is the kind of player he is,” said coach Tim Cone of the Barangay Ginebra import. He’s a clutch player who consistently makes enormous shots. I’m proud of him (Brownlee) and our guys.”
Thanks to their stunning victory, the Philippines won the chance to face Jordan in the gold medal final on Friday. Jordan advanced to the championship game after defeating Chinese Taipei by a score of 90-71 in the other semifinal.
This historic performance marks the first time the Philippines will compete in the Asian Games final since 1990 when an all-pro squad led by great coach Robert Jaworski won a silver medal.
However, Gilas seemed to be in trouble for a significant stretch of the game, losing by 18 points at halftime and 62-50 entering the fourth quarter.
Coach Cone praised his team’s tenacity: “We didn’t look like we had any chance whatsoever, but I’m proud of our players for continuing to battle and fight and find a way to come back in.” He also highlighted Justin Brownlee’s vital involvement in this incredible comeback.
Scottie Thompson had 13 points and eight boards to accompany Brownlee’s heroics, and June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez each had eight points. Kevin Alas came off the bench and scored all five points in the final five minutes, providing a critical jolt.
It’s worth mentioning that the Philippines last won an Asian Games gold medal in 1962, making the forthcoming final against Jordan a historic and highly anticipated event for Filipino basketball fans.
Brownlee (33), Thompson (13), Fajardo (8), Perez (8), Alas (5), Newsome (4), Oftana (4), Kouame (2), Ross (0), Lassiter (0).
China (76): Zhao (18), Hu (10), Zhu (10), Wang (10), Zhao J (9), Du (6, Zhang 4, Cui 1).
Quarterscores were 19-17, 48-30, 62-50, and 77-76.
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