Gilas falls short of late comeback vs Poland in friendly between OQT-bound teams

Michal Sokolowski put up a solid game to keep Poland afloat against Gilas. Polish Basketball Federation
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Gilas Pilipinas failed to get past Poland as the Jeremy Sochan-starred team escaped with an 82-80 win in their early Sunday (Philippine Time) tune-up game at the Arena Sosnowiec.

Gilas failed to sustain a hot first quarter and fell short of a late comeback as the Filipinos went 0-2 in their European tune-up series.

With June Mar Fajardo and Kai Sotto dominating the paint, Gilas caught Poland by surprise and led, 23-16, at the end of the first quarter.

However, Poland fought back in the second quarter and outscored Gilas, 25-15, to go up, 41-38, at halftime.

Poland tried to pull away early in the third quarter after opening an eight-point lead, 48-40, but Gilas responded and eventually tied the game, 50-all, with three and a half minutes left in the period.

Sotto had a chance to give Gilas the lead again, but he missed two free throws, and Poland quickly regained control of the game.

The Polish side then finally got its three-point shooting going in the fourth quarter, eventually opening a 76-62 lead, with 5:06 to play.

Gilas willed its way to the game and eventually got to within two, but with only 2.5 seconds left, Poland simply ran the clock before it reached zero.

Dinamo Sassari star Michal Sokolowski led Poland with 21 points, two rebounds, five assists, and four steals.

Panathinaikos' Olek Balcerowski added 10 markers, three rebounds, one block, and two steals.

Sochan, who is teammates with reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Victor Wembanyama with the San Antonio Spurs, only had eight points, but that included a windmill dunk in the second quarter while successfully evading Fajardo's block attempt.

Justin Brownlee finished with 30 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two steals to lead Gilas, who despite winning the rebounding game, 42-21, committed 23 turnovers.

Both teams will now fly to Valencia for Poland and Riga for Gilas as they vie for two of the last four spots in the Paris Olympics during the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.

Box Scores:

Poland 82-Sokołowski 21, Balcerowski 10, Pluta 8, Sochan 8, Ponitka 7, Zyskowski 6, Milicić 5, Dziewa 5, Michalak 5, Nizioł 5, Mazurczak 2, Żołnierewicz 0

Philippines 80-Brownlee 30, Ramos 16, Fajardo 10, Sotto 8, Newsome 6, Aguliar 4, Tamayo 4, Perez 2, Oftana 0, Quiambao 0

Quarterscores: 16-23, 41-38, 58-56, 82-80

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