Gilas Pilipinas stays perfect after rout of Thailand

Justin Brownlee leads Gilas Pilipinas past Thailand in the Asian Games basketball competition. –POOL

Hurting and all, Justin Brownlee delivered a strong performance for the Philippines in the 19th Asian Games (Asiad) in Hangzhou, China.

And Tim Cone knows exactly what’s pushing his go-to import for Barangay Ginebra in the continental showcase.

“He is such a trooper and he’s playing through [the pain] for only one reason: [because] he’s on the national team,” Cone said.

Brownlee had 22 points and 15 rebounds, overcoming frosty shooting to help the Philippines hose down a late Thailand rally in an 87-72 victory on Thursday at Zhejiang University Gymnasium that kept the country perfect in two games so far in the men’s basketball tournament.

“[H]is leg, his foot was bothering him. I’d say he was about 80 percent today, 85 percent at the most; there were times he was coming down the floor, he was limping,” Cone said of the naturalized star.

The Philippines weathered some hot shooting from the Thais for its second win in as many games.

“They came out with the idea they were gonna shoot a lot of threes, and Tyler Lamb got hot early. I thought we had a good challenge on a lot of those threes but they still went in, so you just have to tip your cap [to them]. They shot the ball well,” Cone said of Thailand, who led by 10 points early and then managed to pull within five, 63-68, early in the fourth.

No ‘pogi’ points

CJ Perez was big again off the bench, pumping in 16 points and seven rebounds. Scottie Thompson was back to his do-it-all form as well, chipping in seven points, eight boards, and nine assists as the Philippines put on a collective effort that ultimately sent the Thais to their second loss and put the Nationals on a collision course with unbeaten Jordan.

The Philippines had 23 second-chance points built on 63 rebounds—one of the big reasons why the Nationals won despite hitting only 32 of their 82 attempts from the field.

But as much as the win wasn’t pleasing to the eyes, Cone said, “We’re not here for ‘pogi’ points. We’re not here to try and win by 50 and impress everybody. No.”

“We’re a team that came together quickly and our expectations are to win each game by one point. That’s it,” he added. “If we win a game by one point, that’s all we care about.”

A win over Jordan on Saturday will grant the Philippines passage into the quarterfinals, and Brownlee knows that such a trek will be a steep one.

“Man, after seeing him in the World Cup, I don’t know why he’s not in the NBA, man,” he said of Hollis-Jefferson in a previous interview with the Inquirer. “Especially with him looking like one of my favorite players of all time, Kobe. Just off of that, I don’t see why this guy is not in the NBA.”

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“But, of course, playing him in the PBA, playing against him is definitely an honor. To be going up against a guy of that talent? Just like in the PBA, I think it’s going to be a great hard-fought game, great competition, obviously, with RHJ.”

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