Gilas rips Hong Kong

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Gilas rips Hong Kong
Justin Brownlee (32)

MANILA, Philippines — And Gilas Pilipinas got the show on the road.

Fueled by the inspired performances of the comebacking Justin Brownlee and Kai Sotto, the Nationals took care of business against Hong Kong, 94-64, in the opener of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers last night at Tsuen Wan Stadium.

Brownlee, back in action after serving a three-month suspension for anti-doping violation in the Asian Games, produced 16 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals in 27 minutes to anchor Gilas’ kickoff victory.

Kai Sotto, carrying main center chores in the absence of injured June Mar Fajardo and AJ Edu, proved up to the task, chalking up 13 markers, 15 boards and two blocks.

Young gun Kevin Quiambao also had a fine outing for Tim Cone’s 11-man crew, netting 15 as Jamie Malonzo added 11.

The triumph in Hong Kong augurs well not only for Gilas’ bid to make the Asia Cup but also for the four-year program Cone started this year.

The end-goal of the current national team is to qualify for the Olympics.

Gilas returns to Manila with momentum, for its home game against Chinese Taipei on Sunday.

Despite the sizzling 9-0 start of Gilas, Hong Kong kept on fighting and stayed within manageable distance after two quarters.

But Cone’s crew, adjusting against the home side’s zone defense and defending the open shots better, wrested control in the third with a 30-9 exchange en route to a 71-46 tear.

Brownlee was the fire-starter of the breakaway that delighted the big Pinoy crowd no end.

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