Gilas, PBA Stars play to thrilling draw
DIGOS CITY , Philippines – (UPDATE) Jeff Chan banged away a three-pointer off Alex Cabagnot with six-tenths of a second left, capping Gilas Pilipinas' bristling chase from 11 points down as the Nationals fought the PBA select team to a 124-124 deadlock in the 2013 PBA All-Star Game before a delirious overflowing crowd at the Davao del Sur Coliseum here last night.
Jason Castro, Gary David, Larry Fonacier and Sonny Thoss came through with clutch baskets of their own in a mighty endgame Gilas siege saving the Nationals from what could have been an embarrassing loss.
Arwind Santos, a member of the national team to the 2009 Tianjin Asian joust, sizzled with a game-high 27 points and shared MVP honors with Chan.
It had appeared a won ball game for the PBA stars as Beau Belga canned in two charities giving them a 120-114 lead with 1:14 left.
But Chan and David knocked in a trey each and Castro buried two foul shots in a strong Gilas finish forging the tie.
"From our Jones Cup stint, that's been the characteristic of this team. It doesn't give up. We've built resoluteness," said Gilas coach Chot Reyes.
The national coach, however, admitted their game is still way, way off to what they desire with only three months to go before going to war in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship.
For one, he said this particular game – their very first since their formation in February – exposed their poor defense.
"We scored 124 points. It should've been a blowout game. But we really couldn't defend. We couldn't stop their transition and their halfcourt game,” rued Reyes.
KG Canaleta, Belga, Alex Cabagnot, Calvin Abueva, Chris Ellis, Jayvee Casio and Cyrus Baguio all put in huge numbers for the PBA Stars, hurting Gilas Pilipinas with their exceptional individual plays.
"We had pre-set patterns before the game. We played each one for five minutes until the last quarter. We could've done a better job matching up but we have to play all the players and, at the same time, make sure players playing in the (Commissioner's Cup) semis don't get tired," said Reyes.
"But no excuse. The other team played well. They made a case for themselves. They proved that they deserve to be in the national team. They gave us a tough time and that's what this game is all about," Reyes added.
Reyes played 11 players from his pool, resting injured players Marcus Douthit, Jimmy Alapag and Ryan Reyes. Greg Slaughter was absent due to his studies back in Manila.
"We rested Douthit so he can play versus the Shanghai Sharks tomorrow (tonight)," said Reyes.
Fonacier and David paced Gilas with 18 and 17 points, respectively.
The PBA Selection had its own injury woes – the reason why starters James Yap and Mark Caguioa played only limited minutes. The two made just a basket each.
Chan and Gabe Norwood combined for 4-of-8 three-point shooting and a total of 22 points as Gilas Pilipinas took a 66-65 edge at the half.
PBA All-Stars 124 – Santos 27, Canaleta 20, Cabagnot 15, Belga 15, Ellis 9, Abueva 9, Casio 9, Baguio 9, Lassiter 6, Caguioa 3, Yap 2.
Gilas Pilipinas 124 – Fonacier 18, David 17, De Ocampo 14, Thoss 11, Castro 11, Pingris 10, Tenorio 10, Norwood 10, Chan 9, Fajardo 9, Aguilar 5.
Quarters: 31-33; 65-66; 95-89; 124-124