By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA--Gilas thought it will suffer a huge implosion and let China repeat its FIBA Asia Cup final dominance in an early rematch.
Terrence Romeo showed up at the death.
Romeo scored eight straight points within the last 3:55 of the game as Gilas avenged its championship game loss to China with a 96-87 win at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Beirut on Wednesday night.
Groomed for a wire-to-wire win after leading by as much as 17, Gilas found itself losing the lead and trailed, 84-87, with 4:20 to go.
But Romeo scored a huge triple with 3:55 to go for the 87-all tie that sparked the game-deciding 12-0 run.
Romeo's clutch showcase continued with the go-ahead short jumper and the dagger triple from the NBA range. Chris Standhardinger and Matt Wright scored on layups to seal the outcome.
Romeo finished with 26 points, four assists, and one steal, while Standhardinger added 15 points, six rebounds, and one assist.
Having to play center because of Junemar Fajardo's injury and Andray Blatche's absence, Japeth Aguilar showed he can be Gilas' top rim protector too by getting five blocks on top of seven points, three rebounds, and one assist.
Guo Ailun led China's furious comeback and finished with 18 points, five assists, and one steal, but he fouled out with 4:40 to go, eventually sparking Gilas' comeback.
Philippines 96-Romeo 26, Standhardinger 15, Castro 13, Wright 12, Pogoy 9, Almazan 9, Norwood 3, Abueva 2, Cruz 0, Jalalon 0
China 87-Guo 18, Zhou 17, Hu 13, G. Li 11, Liu 9, Wu 6, Ren 4, Han 4, Gu 3, Yu 2, Zeng 0
Quarterscores: 26-16, 53-39, 76-70, 96-87
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