(CNN Philippines, August 9) — The Philippines opened its FIBA Asia Cup 2017 campaign on an upbeat note, defeating defending champion China, 96-87, on Wednesday evening at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Lebanon.
Spitfire guard Terrence Romeo led the way for the Filipinos with 26 points and dished out four assists.
Things got emotional when Calvin Abueva figured in a headbutt incident with Li Gen. He was ejected at the 2:27 mark of the opening quarter.
The Philippines deployed a tight defense which caught the Chinese by surprise in the first half.
Banking on its momentum, the all-Filipino squad pushed the tempo but the Chinese staged a comeback and trimmed the deficit to six points heading to the payoff period.
Romeo scored eight of the last 12 points to lift the Philippines to its first win in the tournament.
Big man Christian Standhardinger and point guard Jayson Castro chipped in 15 points and 13 points, respectively.
The Filipinos will next face Iraq on August 11, while China will go up against Qatar on the same day.
Philippines (96) – Romeo 26, Standhardinger 15, Castro 13, Wright 12, Pogoy 9, Almazan 9, Aguilar 7, Norwood 3, Abueva 2, Cruz 0, Jalalon 0.
China (87) – Guo 18, Zhou 17, Hu 13, Li 11, Liu 9, Wu 6, Ren 4, Han 4, Gu 3, Yu 2, Zeng 0.
Quarterscores: 26-16, 53-39, 76-70, 96-87.