Gilas beats giant China

TERRENCE Romeo dazzled in the endgame as Gilas Pilipinas averted a worrying late meltdown to pull off a vengeful 96-87 win over China at the start of the 2017 Fiba Asia Cup on Wednesday night.

Romeo topscored for Gilas with 26 points, including a string of eight points that steadied the Gilas ship after China overhauled a 17-point deficit to seize an 87-84 lead with five minutes left.

Baskets by Christian Standhardinger and Matthew Wright capped a 12-point burst that enabled the Filipinos to avenge a loss to China in the 2015 Fiba Asia final in its hometown of Changsha.

More importantly, the win put an undermanned Gilas side on course to topping the tough Pool B in the eliminations. Iraq and Qatar are the other members of the bracket.

A sweep of the group will enable the Philippines to potentially sidestep an early clash with powerhouse Australia in the first stage of the playoff phase.

Fil-German Standhardinger, who took the place of Andray Blatche as Gilas naturalized player, added 15 points as the Philippines scored its first win against China since the 2014 Fiba Asia Cup bronze-medal game.