The Gilas Pilipinas think-tank need to seriously boost their game in the quest for a gold medal. The Philippines were stunned by first-timer Palestine on Tuesday’s match-up in the FIBA Asia 2015 Day 1 game. Gilas in their quest for an Olympic ticket finally bowed down to Palestine 75-73 at the Changsha Social Work College Gymnasium in Changsha, China.
The Philippine team took the lead in the first 15 minutes of the game and held on to that for long, but they faced a severe challenge from a stubborn Palestine side in the later phases. Jamal Abu Shamala‘s 3-pointer clinched the advantage for the winners for the first time in the game with 1:35 minutes remaining. Palestine led 72-71 at that point.
Andray Blatche, who posted a decent performance in the first game, restored the lead for Gilas. But a timely 3-pointer by Sani Sakakini pulled off an emphatic win for Palestine in their debut game in the championship.
The weird part of the story is that only the Palestinians made inroads on the scoring sheet throughout the game. 6-foot-5 forward Shamala starred in Palestine’s upset victory by scoring 26 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. He featured in all 40 minutes of the game. Like Shamala, Sakakini also chipped in for 40 minutes to post 22 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists and two steals. His brother Salim Sakakini also added 10 points.
Gilas, ranked 31 in the world by the FIBA, now need to bounce back strongly against Hong Kong on Thursday to keep their title aspirations alive. They will play against Kuwait on Friday.