Philippines run roughshod over Kuwait to enter second round
Kuwait kept things close early in the game, even trailing by just a solitary point, 11-10, in the middle of the first quarter before coach Tab Baldwin’s wards uncorked a crippling run that all but deflated the Gulf side’s spirits. The Filipinos continued to cruise the rest of the way and secured their ticket to round two, where they are to face Iran, Japan, and India.
Jayson Castro was the main spark in the first half for the Philippines, and the fiery guard nicknamed “The Blur” finished with 16 points total. Three other Filipinos broke the double-digit barrier even as 42-year-old Asi Taulava, the tournament’s oldest player, recorded a near-double-double with 9 points and 10 rebounds.
Turning Point: With Kuwait cutting the deficit to just one point at the 7:02 mark of the first quarter, Gilas Pilipinas increased their aggressiveness and energy level and opened the game up by scoring 33 of the next 34 points. That rally practically put the outcome beyond doubt.
Stats Don't Lie: Bench scoring was huge for the Philippines in this one. In total, the Filipino reserves scored 64 points, matching Kuwait’s team total. Terrence Romeo was the chief provider of offense from the bench, but Calvin Abueva and JC Intal did their share, too, with 10 points each.
Game Hero: The flamboyant Romeo unloaded his best game yet, hitting all three of his attempts from beyond the arc to finish with 19 points. He also laced his production with 2 assists and 2 steals. Having this breakout performance is important for Romeo, who is certainly expected to play a big role in the team’s hopes of advancing deep into the next rounds.
The Bottom Line: The Philippines needed to emerge from this game victorious to avoid any complications at the close of Group B play. The final spread also underscores the Filipinos’ capabilities, which were put under question after the debacle on opening day against Palestine. Kuwait drop their third straight game and will play in the consolation round to determine the competition’s bottom four squads.