By John Rei Salanga

PHOTO: FIBA Basketball

Gilas Pilipinas failed to keep a winning momentum in the Fiba Asia Cup after being drubbed by New Zealand, 75-92, capping off the group stage as the third-ranking team of Group D at the Istora Stadium, Sunday.

Finishing off with a 1-2 record, the loss drives the Filipinos to a knockout playoff against Group C’s second-seeded Watanabe-led Japan on Tuesday for a berth to face Group A top-ranking Australia.

Former King Blue Eagle Kiefer Ravena soared for the Philippines’ losing bid for a second straight win after chalking up 17 markers, six rebounds, and three assists — his best outing in the tournament.

However, the Tall Blacks drained 11 threes that gave them a comfortable edge all match long, piloted by Flynn Cameron and Taine Murray with 18 and 16 points for the Kiwis, respectively.

Still and all, the Philippines made a dashing effort in the closing minute of the first half to tighten the gap to as little as five points, thanks to a 15-5 run capped by Kiefer Ravena’s driving layup off a Kevin Quiambao defensive rebound, 38-43.

But New Zealand was quick to extinguish the Gilas spark as 6-foot-7 Isaac Davidson answered with a 3-point jumper that led to a dominating second half for the Tall Blacks, trailing the Filipinos behind by as much as 20 points by the final canto.

And as if not enough, the Kiwis, being the best rebounding team of the conference, also displayed prowess in their defensive facets after tallying a whopping 61 boards–a 33-rebound surplus over Gilas’ 28.

“We lost the game in the first quarter. Got outrebounded by 33 rebounds. There is no way for us to win a ball game getting outrebounded that way,” remarked Gilas head coach Chot Reyes.

Quiambao and Carl Tamayo executed similar performances after cashing in 14 points and four boards, while 7-foot center Ray Parks entered the double-digit scoring club by adding 10.

Edited by Quian Vencel Galut