Gilas Pilipinas buckled down to business right away, routing Bahrain, 89-61, to kick off its 19th Asian Games campaign on a rousing note on Tuesday, Sept. 26, at the HOC Olympic Stadium.
Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame presided over a second quarter breakaway that paved the way for the national team to sit on a 51-33 lead at the break.
Brownlee finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds in his first stint in the continental meet while Ange Kouame came through with 15 in the 28-point victory that put Gilas on top of Pool C along with Jordan, a 97-63 winner over Thailand on the same day.
Coach Tim Cone was quick to put behind the victory, stressing the need to prepare for Tyler Lamb and the rest of the Thais, who will be Gilas’ next opponent on Thursday.
“We didn’t play Thailand in the Southeast Asian Games. But we saw them in the SEA Games, but we’re not matched up against them. They were knocked out by Cambodia,” Cone said.
Gilas led by as much as 34 points late in the game.
CJ Perez, one of five replacement players finally given the go-signal to play hours before game time, finished with 15 points, and Calvin Oftana was the other player in double figure for Gilas with 14.
Along with Perez, Cone opted to put on the floor the four other last-minute inclusions in Kevin Alas, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross and Arvin Tolentino when the game was already in the bag in order to give them a feel of the Gilas system after just joining the team a week heading to the Asiad.
“That was important for us to get that extra time. The five guys are still feeling their way around. And again, those are the guys who we’re gonna depend on as they decide how far we go,” said the Gilas coach.
Former PBA import Wayne Chism was held to just five points as Jameel Almoathin showed the way for Bahrain with 14 points.