Dwight Ramos went off to a hot start then AJ Edu and Rhenz Abando provided the spunk off the bench as the all-Filipino Gilas Pilipinas team scored a 76-65 triumph against a young Iranian team in the first of the four tune up matches in the Heyuan WUS International Basketball Tournament at the Heyuan Sports Gymnasium Thursday night.
Ramos scored eight of the Filipinos’ first 13 points before Edu, playing his first game as a member of the Gilas pool, and Abando, who just rejoined the national team program to fight for a roster spot in the coming FIBA World Cup, joined forces for the Philippines.
Edu, the 6-foot-10, former member of the national youth team, saw action for the first time after being sidelined by an ankle injury during their European training and tune up matches in Estonia and Lithuania, but has recovered and made a good account of himself against Iran.
His inside basket coming off a high-low play gave the Philippines its first sizeable lead, 52-41, in the later stretch of the third.
Iran fought back, but CJ Perez started to catch fire and scored the last seven points of the third period as the Filipinos established a 59-46 lead going to the final quarter.
Gilas Pilipinas returns to action on Friday against a bigger and athletic Senegal team at 8 p.m.
The national team aspirants for the FIBA World Cup are playing in four tune up games in China without their naturalized players.
Justin Brownlee just underwent a surgery to remove bone spurs on his foot that has been bothering him for four years to get himself ready in time for the Asian Games.
Ange Kouame, on the other hand, is currently loaned to Rain or Shine, which is representing the Philippine Basketball Association in the coming Jones Cup while National Basketball Association star Jordan Clarkson, Gilas’ naturalized player for the FIBA World Cup, will only join the squad in Manila right after the team wraps up its campaign in China.