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Gilas tramples Chinese Taipei, sets first-seed duel vs Australia

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By Mark Patriarca

Gilas Pilipinas overcame a slow start to assert mastery over Chinese Taipei, 93-71, in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Taipei Heping Basketball Stadium, Friday night.

Four-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo proved he is the difference-maker with 22 points on an impressive clip of 9 out of 12 shooting.

Andray Blatche redeemed himself with an all-around performance, 13 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists, while Jayson Castro and Terrence Romeo provided the needed one-two punch in the backcourt with 15 and 14 markers, respectively.

The Taiwan national squad built an early cushion at the opening salvo, 4-12, built from multiple three-point conversions contrary to Gilas’ misfiring shots early in the game.

Come second quarter, Gilas regained composure via brilliant playmaking of Terrence Romeo and dominating inside presence of June Mar Fajardo to finish the half with a 44-37 advantage.

The scoring parade continued for Gilas as the lead ballooned to 15 points, 62-47, at the closing minutes of the third.

Chinese Taipei was able to cut the lead to a single digit, 78-69, with still half of the game left. But the Filipinos answered with a 15-2 run to comfortably get the ‘W’.

With the win, Gilas will face Australia, who were stunned by Japan (79-78), for the right to sit atop of the standings in Group B, Monday at Philippine Arena, Bulacan.

The Scores:

Gilas Pilipinas (93) – Fajardo 22, Castro 15, Romeo 14, Blatche 13, Norwood 8, Wright 6, Rosario 5, Jalalon 2, Pogoy 0, Aguilar 0, Abueva 0, Maliksi 0

Chinese Taipei (71) – Davis 17, Lu 13, Chen Y. 11, Chou Y. 9, Chen K. 9, Yang 7, Tseng 3, Chou P. 2, Liu 0, Chiang 0, Su 0, Creighton 0

Quarter scores: 16-19, 44-37, 68-60, 93-71