Mark Angelo Mañez

Gilas Pilipinas bucked off yet another turtle-like start as they ruthlessly massacred Chinese Taipei offensively, 106-53 to close out their 2025 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers 1st window campaign at the PhilSports Arena, Sunday.

Photo Courtesy of FIBA

Naturalized player Justin Brownlee and beanpole Kai Sotto went on a field day as they orchestrated the massive blowout in front of a near-capacity crowd, leading to a rare twin double-double.

Gilas big guns tag teamed all night, combining for 44 markers and 23 boards to lead Coach Tim Cone’s wards in the window sweep. They also added 10 assists, five blocks and a steal in 52 minutes (combined) inside the court.

"I really like the way we worked tonight…. We played the same team, and these guys just worked their tails off and made them look bad and they're not that bad,” Gilas head coach Tim Cone expressed during the postgame conference.

Four other Gilas players also notched their double-digit contributions with Calvin Oftana leading the pack, adding 13 markers. He also spiced up his stat sheet with 5 boards and 2 swipes.

Meanwhile, veteran guard Liu Cheng was the only double-digit performer for Mao Sen-Sang’s Chinese Taipei squad, churning up 13 markers including the last five in the dying seconds.

Liu also praised the opposing team’s talent and acknowledged the team’s efforts in defending them while making it a challenging time.

Practically it was an even more spectacular performance for Gilas, following their 30-point blowout over Hong Kong, China three nights prior.

Coach Tim Cone’s wards started their usual slow pace as they gauged their guests after ten minutes, leading to a 26-16 cushion early on. But it was the second period when things got wind into their favor.

“Chinese Taipei is not a bad team, but we just came out strong defensively. We played good team defense and then the offense just came in after. Just happy that everybody contributed offensively and defensively. I'm happy everybody enjoyed it,” added Gilas big Sotto.

Their hosts’ relentless presence on both ends gave major headaches for Chinese Taipei as they saw themselves in dire state, down 52-27 despite Hsieh Ya-Hsuan knocking down the stepback buzzer.

Stats don't lie in tonight's game

Relevant to their previous outing against Hong Kong China, Gilas showed both their inside-outside arsenal all 40 minutes long.

With several bigs who can knock distance shots, Gilas dominated the paint as they crash boards, collecting 57 rebounds (18 offensive) as compared to Chinese Taipei’s 29 (11 offensive).

“We really appreciate that the Philippines gave us such a good game tonight. We have been learning a lot of stuff from this game and hope in the next game, we could improve and try to compete with the Philippines again,” Chinese Taipei head coach Mao Sen Sang stated.

Gilas’ shot selection also became a vital factor leading to the blowout, especially in the rainbow territory. They made 7-16 from distance, accounting for 43% as against Chinese Taipei’s 10-41 (24%). Inside the paint, Gilas simply ran amuck outmuscling their visitors 64 to 12.

Defense-wise, the team also pummeled the stat sheets forcing 16 turnovers while picking up the same number of 2nd chance buckets as against TPE’s 10 and six.

Their run-and-gun game also proved vital in tonight's win as they outgunned them 35-17. Ball movement-wise, the Filipinos still managed to snare the 30-assist mark, slightly lower than the 33 made against Hong Kong last Thursday.

Second qualifying window games resume in late November. Gilas, however, won't let every second slip from their hands as they gear up for their Olympic quest in Riga, Latvia in early July.

More games in store

Meanwhile, Japan (2-0) finally ended a long winless drought as they toppled perennial Asian rival China (1-1), 76-73, in front of a sold-out Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo.

Yudai Baba went berserk down the stretch as he led Akatsuki Five to an unforgettable moment. He chalked up 24 big points, on top of his four rebounds, two assists and a steal in 37 minutes.

“...Baba hit some huge threes, he was on fire today and his defense was amazing," said Japan head coach Tom Hovasse.

Naturalized big Josh Hawkinson backstopped Baba with another massive double-double with his 14-marker 14-board effort.

This also marked their first win in nearly 90 years against the Asian giants.
The Chinese, however, were carried all along by Hu Jinqiu and Hu Mingxuan combining for 43 huge points and 16 rebounds.

Over in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Guam (1-1) bounced back from their failed conquest against Japan with a 74-63 win over their hosts.

Earnest Ross Jr. led four others in the scoring chores as he punched in 19 big points, on top of 8 rebounds, two steals and a block in 35 minutes of court presence.

San Miguel Beer guard Jericho Cruz, however, also added six turnovers out of the team’s 23 all game. He also had four boards, three dimes and a swat in nearly 30 minutes.

Bilguun Battuvshin took over for Mongolia in the scoring department, chalking up 13 points in the loss which dropped them to 0-2.