Gilas Pilipinas reached the men’s basketball final at the Asian Games for the first time in over three decades, securing a nail-biting victory over the host People’s Republic of China, 77-76, in Hangzhou on Wednesday night.
Despite trailing for almost the entire game and being 20 points down in the third quarter, Justin Brownlee’s three-pointer with 24 seconds left on the clock turned the tables, giving the Gilas the lead for the first time and eventually clinching the victory.
In the final, the Philippines will face Jordan, which secured a 90-71 victory against Chinese Taipei in the other semi-final.
The Jordanians previously defeated Gilas 87-62 in the opening rounds.
The final is scheduled at 8pm local time on Friday, while the bronze medal match between the People’s Republic of China and Chinese Taipei takes place at 4pm.
Brownlee led the way for the Gilas with an impressive 33 points, while Scottie Thomson added 13 points and three assists.
However, in the opening minutes of the first quarter, the Philippines struggled to find their rhythm, allowing the home favorites to take a 15-4 lead in just four minutes.
Gradually, Gilas gained momentum and scored 11 unanswered points to even the game at 15-15, with Thompson leading the charge, but they still ended the first quarter trailing 17-19.
The momentum shifted back in favor of the home team in the second quarter. Due to untimely fouls and turnovers, the Philippines allowed the hosts to seize control of the game.
Then, Gilas struggled to find their groove and conceded ten points without reply, entering half-time with a 30-48 deficit.
The Filipinos came out strong in the third quarter, launching a spirited comeback and outscoring the People’s Republic of China 20-14.
In the final quarter, the Gilas continued to narrow the Chinese lead, and Brownlee’s three-pointer with 24 seconds remaining completed the unlikely comeback, securing the victory and propelling them into the final.