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Gilas trounces Tunisia in OT

Ange Kouame saved Gilas with a buzzer-beating block. FIBA/Paul Ryan Tan (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Gilas Pilipinas scored probably its biggest win so far in the King Abdullah Cup, stunning Tunisia in overtime, 74-73, early Friday (Philippine Time) at the Prince Hamzah Sports Hall in Amman.

Rey Suerte saved Gilas from Tunisia's second half surge, while Thirdy Ravena and Ange Kouame won it for Gilas on both ends of the floor.

Gilas got the better of its toe-to-toe battle with Tunisia in the first half, entering the intermission ahead, 36-31.

In the third quarter, however, Tunisia held Gilas to just 13 points to take a 53-49 lead and was on track of holding Gilas off.

But Suerte scored a three-pointer with 35 seconds left in regulation that forced a 66-all deadlock and eventually forced overtime.

Gilas had two chances to win it in regulation, but Dwight Ramos missed a three-pointer and Balti Baltazar botched his follow-up as time expired.

Gilas zoomed ahead early into overtime and took a 73-69 lead with 1:11 left, but free throws from Firas Lihiani and a layup from Ahmed Addami forced a 73-all tie with 17 seconds to play.

Achref Gannouni, however, fouled Ravena, leading to Ravena's go-ahead charity with nine seconds remaining.

Ravena actually kept the door open for Tunisia to win as he only converted a split, but Kouame blocked Gannouni's potential game winner to finally the door on the team.

Kouame finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, five assists, five blocks, and two steals for Gilas, which moved up to 2-1 in the team standings.

After scorching hot against Jordan B on Wednesday, Ramos somehow struggled this time, but he still had 11 markers, three rebounds, two dimes, one steal, and two blocks.

It was Isaac Go's turn to have his own perfect game, going 3-for-3 from the field for eight points alongside three rebounds and two assists.

In a way, the Gilas' "cadets" avenged their kuyas, that is, the all-PBA team that played in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, as the 2019 squad lost to Tunisia, 67-86, in an classification phase match.

Oussama Marnaoui led Tunisia, which fell to 1-2, with 19 points, eight boards, five assists, and two steals.

Tunisia will face unbeaten Egypt, while Gilas will face Jordan A in previews of their semifinal pairings spanning from Friday night to early Saturday.

Box Scores:

Philippines 74-Kouame 12, Ramos 11, Belangel 10, Go 8, Ma. Nieto 7, Ravena 7, Tamayo 5, Suerte 5, Baltazar 5, Heading 3, Navarro 1, Ildefonso 0, Chiu 0

Tunisia 73-Marnaoui 19, Gannouni 16, Ochi 10, Jawadi 9, Lahiani 6, Chihi 5, Bouallegue 4, Ben Yahia 2, Addami 2

Quarterscores: 15-14, 36-31, 49-53, 66-66, 74-73

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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