Gilas defeat Jordan to win First Asiad Gold Medal
Gilas Pilipinas finally won the gold medal in men’s basketball at the Asian Games after a 61-year drought. The Filipino squad demonstrated their power and resolve in a thrilling fight on Friday night at the Hangzhou Olympic Centre.
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The dynamic tandem of Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame propelled Gilas Pilipinas’ win. Brownlee’s versatility, which included a double-double of 20 points and ten rebounds, teamed with Kouame’s 14 points and 12 rebounds to form an unbeatable duo. Chris Newsome was key on defense, efficiently protecting Rondae Hollis-Jefferson for most of the game and providing 13 crucial points.
The dramatic championship game finished with Gilas Pilipinas winning 70-60, confirming their comeback to the top of Asian basketball after a long absence since 1962. At midcourt, the Filipino players celebrated their hard-earned triumph, basking in the joy of becoming Asiad basketball champions for the second time.
In the post-game news conference, coach Tim Cone showed his joy, saying, “We’re too good of a basketball nation not to win this thing,” emphasizing the teamwork that led to this extraordinary victory.
Despite a game-high 24 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists, Hollis-Jefferson struggled against Newsome’s strong defense, shooting 8-of-29 from the floor. He did, however, spark a Jordan comeback in the second period with eight crucial baskets in a 16-3 run that knotted the game at 31.
Gilas had established a dominating 28-15 lead, but Jordan’s comeback turned the game into a nail-biter. Nonetheless, Gilas Pilipinas reclaimed control in the second half and never looked back.
“Jordan had a tough shooting night,” said Coach Cone. “They didn’t shoot the ball well tonight,” Gilas said, highlighting his team’s remarkable performance in the finals.
Aside from Brownlee, Kouame, and Newsome, Scottie Thompson’s 11 points, Calvin Oftana’s 5 points, and Japeth Aguilar’s 3 points contributed significantly to Gilas Pilipinas’ triumph.
The ultimate results reflected the team’s victorious effort:
Brownlee 20, Kouame 14, Newsome 13, Thompson 11, Oftana 5, Aguilar 3, Alas 2, Perez 2 for the Philippines (70).
Jordan (60): Hollis-Jefferson, Mustafa, Al Dwairi, Alhamarshev, Bohannon, Bzai, Hussein.
The quarter scores were 17-12, 31-31, 51-41, and 70-60.
This momentous triumph was a watershed event in Filipino basketball history, and Gilas Pilipinas’ extraordinary path to the gold medal will be remembered for years to come.
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