All Gilas Pilipinas really needed was a Dwight Ramos flash.
Shorthanded with just 10 men in uniform and slow to hit its stride, Gilas got a timely boost from its 6-foot-4 swingman to protect home court with a 79-63 victory over India in the 2023 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers on Sunday night.
Ramos unloaded nine points in the first half to trigger Gilas’ 21-10 start before continuing to pound on the Indians’ defense and stretch the lead to 21, 45-24, at the half before home fans at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena.
He delivered 21 points, five rebounds, four steals, and two assists to spearhead Gilas’ balanced attack in a game that saw the hosts stretch the lead to its biggest at 24, 48-24, after he split his charities at the 9:08 mark of the third quarter.
The win enabled the hosts to finish the first round of the qualifiers with a 2-2 (win-loss) record and snap a streak of two losses, both against New Zealand including a horror 106-60 away defeat to the Tall Blacks just last Thursday.
Gilas, together with New Zealand (4-0) and India (0-4) now head to the second round where they will merge with the top three teams from Group C, namely Lebanon (4-1), Saudi Arabia (3-2), and Jordan (3-2) to form Group E.
The first sets of games to be played in the November window later this year.
In spite of never being in real danger of losing, the Philippine side still left a lot to be desired, committing 15 turnovers that led to 12 easy points for India.
Three-point shooting, too, remained a big headache for Gilas as it only shot 6-of-28 from beyond the arc, a measly 21 percent.
Still, Ramos’ hot start allowed everything to fall into place from then on.
Kiefer Ravena produced 12 points, four dimes, two boards, and two steals while coming in to stabilize the Filipinos after an erratic fourth quarter where India still got to within 14 points, 75-61, with 2:21 left to play.
William Navarro also made the most of his extended play in the payoff period with his 11 points and four rebounds, while Carl Tamayo bucked a sprained ankle from the New Zealand game to churn out nine points, nine boards, and three steals.
Dave Ildefonso also sat out the game due to knee issues.
Muin Bek Hafeez led India with 13 points in the losing cause.
• Philippines 79 – Ramos 21, Ravena 12, Navarro 11, Tamayo 9, Quiambao 6, Lopez 6, Chiu 5, Abarrientos 5, Belangel 2, Abando 2.
• India 63 – Hafeez 13, Sekhon 12, Muthu Krishnan 12, Bhriguvanshi 8, Rawat 7, Goti 7, Aryan 2, Prince 2, Nayak 0, Tomar 0.
Quarters: 21-10, 45-24, 65-44, 79-63.