Thailand plays better but still falls to Gilas

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    SHOWING ‘EM: Gilas guard Dwight Ramos attacks the defense of Chanatip Jakrawan of Thailand in their FIBA Asia Cup match last Monday. FIBA PHOTO

    GILAS coach Jong Uichico said that Thailand fared better last Monday night but even this could not prevent them from falling to an all-amateur Philippine five anew.

    Boosted by a fiery start and a sustained charge, Gilas ripped Thailand 93-69 in the second window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers at the Khalifa Sport City in Manama, Bahrain.

    University of the Philippines forward Javi Gomez de Liaño showed the way for Gilas with 19 points anchored on a perfect 2-of-2 shooting from deep, to go with two rebounds, while his brother Juan Gomez de Liaño backed him up with 14 markers, four boards, and four assists.

    Ateneo guard Dwight Ramos also had 13 and five for Gilas, which completed an emphatic two-game sweep of Thailand and hiked their record to 3-0 in Group A.

    Gilas lost playmaker Matt Nieto, who left the game for good with a sprained right ankle at the 7:06 mark of the third quarter.

    Nieto, who had 12 points and two assists before his injury, stepped on the foot of Thailand big man Chanatip Jakwaran and writhed in pain on the floor.

    The Thais failed to recover from their 76-90 loss to Indonesia last Saturday and remained winless in four matches in the qualifiers that were played without fans and in a bubble due to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

    Gilas drubbed Thailand 93-61 last Friday.

    Uichico also credited his charges’ win to their execution on offense and their defense.

    “Since the lead we had in the first game was very big, we were concerned that they might take the game for granted. We really harped on executing the offense and playing defense,” Uichico said.

    “Thailand played a better game today than they did in the first game,” he added.

    The nationals pounced on a listless Thai side behind an 11-0 start and took a 53-34 bulge at the half and went into the payoff period with a commanding 75-52 spread.

    Hardly meeting any resistance, Gilas stretched its lead to as much as 82-54 on a Javi Gomez de Liaño free throw with 8:23 left in the final canto.

    Jakrawan was the lone bright spot for Thailand, which played without Thai-American gunner Tyler Lamb and tactician Chris Daleo, who is still in the US.

    “The coaches told us to set our defense, and execute our plays, to win the second game,” said Gilas center Justine Baltazar.