By Justine Juyad

Gilas Pilipinas fired back in the second half to secure a convincing win against the crowd bet Jordan, 74-66, to open their FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers fifth window campaign on Friday midnight (Manila time).

Photo Courtesy of FIBA Basketball

Gilas locked up their defense in the final half of the game allowing only 10 points in the third while scoring 21 to take over the game until the final buzzer and bring home their first road win in the tournament. 

"We really focused on our defense, being able to stop their key players and as a result we're able to hold them below 70 points," head coach Chot Reyes stated in a post-game interview.

The youngest in the squad, Kai Sotto, led the team in scoring with his 16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, shooting 2/3 beyond the arc while the reigning PBA MVP, Scottie Thompson, had his best game so far in Gilas jersey recording a near triple-double with 8 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists.

Both teams went back-and-forth in the first half where Gilas were down by four after the first two quarters but the Filipinos changed the tempo entering the second half.

Sotto knocked his second three-pointer followed by three straight points from Japhet Aguilar to open the third and regain a three-point lead.

Cold shooting Dwight Ramos buried his first and only three points in the game with 43 seconds remaining in the third to stretch their lead to seven. 

Philippines maintained their momentum with Kai taking over as he scored seven points in fourth quarter alone to help Gilas get the victory.

Meanwhile, Dar Decker scored a game high 23 points but wasn't enough to carry the FIBA Asia Cup 4th placers into win.

Ahmad Al Dwairi's double-double 18 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocks also went naught after suffering their 2nd loss in the tournament.

Gilas Pilipinas will visit Saudi Arabia next on November 15 midnight (Manila time).

Quarters: 21-20, 37-41, 58-51, 74-66