MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas defended the homecourt versus Lebanon, 107-96 with the help of debuting naturalized Filipino, Justin “Super Noypi” Brownlee on February 24, 2023 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Barely-jelled Gilas Pilipinas, led by veteran national team player and SMB center Junemar Fajardo started the final window of FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers 2023 versus Lebanon slowly.
|Naturalized Filipino Justin Brownlee caps Gilas Pilipinas debut with a win over Lebanon. Photo Credit: FIBA|
It took the nationals a couple of minutes to log their first digits on the scoreboard courtesy of Dwight Ramos and CJ Perez followed by newly-naturalized Filipino cager, Justin Brownlee.
Brownlee didn’t need much time to get acclimated with his new squad as the multi-titled Gin King made it rain from the outside early in the opener for the lead.
The BLeague boys, spearheaded by Kiefer Ravena and Ray Parks Jr. contributed significant numbers in the first to ramp up their advantage, 25-19 as the opening chapter came to a close.
The three point fiesta carried on the second period as Parks and fellow BLeague Asian import Jordan Heading relentlessly pummeled the Lebanese beyond the arc for the first double-digit lead.
Team Lebanon, headed by Amir Saoud retaliated with their own treys and jumpers to trim Philippines’ advantage to just a dozen with over five minutes left in the half.
Just as Lebanon managed to narrow the gap, Ginebra-duo Thompson and Brownlee spoiled the catch up, where the former scored a back-to-back slam dunk to wrap the second quarter up, 53-41.
Both teams engaged in a shooting spree in the third period. But Gilas Pilipinas got into the disadvantage as Fajardo got into foul trouble with more than seven minutes remaining.
Despite “the Kraken’s” misfortune, the nationals still wowed the crowd as Jamie Malonzo posterized the Lebanese center with a double-pump two-handed slam followed by another breakaway dunk.
First time senior national cager Mason Amos, had been such a revelation in this game as the youngster drained multiple triples with confidence to help escalate Gilas’ margin, 82-64 at the end of the penultimate quarter.
With oozing confidence, Gilas Pilipinas jump started the fourth period with its first 20-point lead of the game.
Slowly but surely, Lebanon threatened to do a comeback anew midway of the final canto using its three point shooting prowess.
Amos continued to impress the basketball community as he remained perfect from the floor; five out of five shooting to aid Philippines avenged its previous loss versus Lebanon.
Thirdy Ravena placed the cherry on top as Gilas Pilipinas won its first assignment of the sixth window, 107-96 against the fierce Lebanese Team.
The Philippines will face another middle eastern squad, Team Jordan on Monday, February 27, 2023.
— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express