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China rallies in endgame, forces draw vs. Gilas in tune-up

Kai Sotto had 11 of his 13 points in the first half against China. FIBA/Paul Ryan Tan (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--China pulled off a huge endgame rally to force a 79-all with Gilas Pilipinas in a friendly match at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center on Wednesday night.

Gilas had control for most part of the game and held a seven-point cushion, 78-71, with 1:07 left in the tune-up.

However, China rallied with back-to-back baskets to cut the lead down to three, 78-75.

Jordan Heading gave Gilas some breathing room after a split from the free throw line to up the lead back to four, 79-75.

China somehow slightly capitalized on SJ Belangel's fifth foul as the team too scored a split from the line, but it had a chance for redemption after Gilas turned the ball over in the next play.

Gilas tried to play some mind games as Geo Chiu gave up a foul with 1.2 seconds left that would force China to go for the intentional second free throw miss.

Luckily for China, though, the team scored on a tip-in off the intentional miss just before the final buzzer sounded.

Both teams agreed not to play an overtime session.

Kai Sotto led Gilas with 13 points, 11 in the first half, while Heading and Ange Kouame each added 12.

Both teams are preparing for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments next week.

Gilas will be flying to Belgrade on Thursday, while China heads to Victoria, Canada later this week too.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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