The SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team barely broke a sweat in dispatching Uzbekistan, 85-50, for its second straight victory in the FIBA Asia Cup in Tokyo, Japan.
Jeff Chan led all scorers with 20 points for the Philippine team, which was never seriously threatened in the game. SMART-Gilas limited Uzbekistan to just five points in the second quarter to break away for a 39-21 halftime lead before cruising to victory in the second half.
Chan, who had only managed to score five points total in the Philippines’ first two games in the tournament, had a breakout performance with 20 points, including four three-pointers, in just 18 minutes of play while Jared Dillinger was the only other Filipino in double figures. Five others players scored seven or more points for SMART-Gilas.
Chan found his touch early, firing 12 points in the first 6:05 of the game. And he did it in a variety of ways, knocking down three-pointers and getting easy opportunities in transition, as Gilas opened a 23-16 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Filipinos then turned the pressure up in the second behind PBA teammates Larry Fonacier and Jared Dillinger. Fonacier hit a big three-pointer to open the period, and Dillinger had two strong finishes – a difficult reverse layup and two-handed dunk – on back-to-back possessions as the Filipinos opened with 14-0 blast en route to a 39-21 lead at the halftime break.
SMART-Gilas showed no signs of slowing in the third, with LA Tenorio setting the tone early by finding Gabe Norwood wide open for an alley-oop dunk.
Chan then caught fire once again, scoring five straight points on a layup in the paint and a three. He then found naturalized center Marcus Douthit for an easy dunk. After Douthit made two more free throws to make it 50-23 for the Philippines with 6:44 remaining in the third, Chan came through yet again, hitting his fourth triple of the game to give the SMART-Gilas a whopping 30-point lead, 53-23.
With the game well in hand, the Filipinos took the opportunity to give many of their key players a rest, handing extended minutes to reserves, who pushed the lead to as high as 37 points in the fourth quarter.
Douthit, who led the team with a 25-point, 21-rebound effort in their previous game, played just a little over 14 minutes, finishing with nine points and four rebounds.
The struggles from the outside that plagued SMART-Gilas in their first two games, where they shot just 8-for-48, seemed to be past them as they nailed three of their first five attempts and finished with an 8-for-20 (40 percent) clip from beyond the arc.
SMART-Gilas wraps up its preliminary round campaign Sunday against another minnow, Macau, before proceeding to the crossover knockout quarterfinal round.
SMART-Gilas Pilipinas (85) – Chan 20, Dillinger 10, Douthit 9, Rosser 8, David 7, Fonacier 7, Reyes 7, Villanueva 6, De Ocampo 5, Norwood 4, Tenorio 2, Thoss 0.
Uzbekistan (50) – Denisov 16, Juginisov 12, Kozlov 6, Rahimov 6, Yakhin 6, Nuraliev 2, Tangrikulov 2, Kadirov 0, Nabiev 0, Safarov 0, Timofeev 0.
Quarterscores: 23-16, 39-21, 63-33, 85-50.
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