Hangzhou—CJ Perez and Ange Kouame justified their inclusion into the Gilas Pilipinas roster with their huge games as the Filipinos used a balanced attack to thrash Bahrain, 89-61, and drumbeat that they mean business at the start of the 19th Asian Games’ basketball competitions at the Zijingang University on Tuesday.
Coach Tim Cone didn’t have to give naturalized player Justin Brownlee major minutes as the rest of his crew, led by Kouame and Perez, proved enough to fend off the challenge of the Bahrainis, who were only into the fight in the first quarter.
Cone quickly put behind the emphatic 28-point victory behind, though, saying the need to prepare for Thailand and Tyler Lamb, who will be Gilas’ next opponent on Thursday.
“We didn’t play Thailand in the Southeast Asian Games. But we saw them in the SEA Games, but we’re not matched up against them. They were knocked out by Cambodia,” said Cone of the Thais.
After measuring their foes in the first and led by just four at 22-18, Gilas finally broke loose in the second, with Kouame and Perez leading the charge, with the help of Brownlee.
That was Gilas’ most productive quarter with 29 points, even as the Filipinos limited Bahrain to just 15 to finally break free at 51-33, heading into the second half.
The assault didn’t end from there.
With Marcio Lassiter and Calvin Oftana joining the scoring fray, the Filipinos kept the pressure in the third and kept the Bahrainis at bay, 69-41, on a trey from the latter.
Gilas stretched that lead further to its biggest at 34 points, 87-53, on a three by Lassiter.
Not even former PBA import Dwayne Chism could stop Kouame as the naturalized Gilas big man frolicked inside with a 15 points and 7 rebounds, with Perez matching his teammate’s offensive output to go with 2 rebounds and 2 assists.
Brownlee had 20 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists in only 13 minutes, outplaying his Bahrain counterpart Chism, who only had 5 points, but with 13 boards.