Mac Belo exploded with 30 points and 11 rebounds as Gilas Pilipinas snared its first victory in the 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge by ripping Kazakhstan, 98-86, in Tehran, Iran on Tuesday, September 13.
Belo, easily the biggest name in a national lineup left without PBA players as well as amateur stars Kiefer Ravena and Rayray Parks, stamped his class as Gilas ended a run of three losses to India, Chinese Taipei and China.
Gilas got off to a scintillating 22-7 start but had to fend off a late-game rally by Mikhail Yevstigneynev-led Kazakhs to barge into the win column after dropping their first three games against India, Chinese-Taipei, and China.
The victory also gave a ray of hope for the Filipino ballers, who need at least two wins to advance to the quarterfinals of the continental meet
Yevstigneynev instigated the furious 18-5 rally to close the third period and allow Kazakhstan to close in, 70-66. But he fouled out with 2:57 to go and Gilas started to pull away, enjoying a 90-77 lead on Kevin Ferrer’s triple. The former UST star followed it up with another booming triple to take the fight out of the already eliminated Kazakhstan side.
Ed Daquioag contributed 17 points, while Russell Escoto added 12 for Gilas, who next faces Jordan in a must-win situation to enter the quarterfinals.
Pavel Ilin had 18 points while Nikolay Bazhkin added 17 for the Kazakhstan team that’s winless in four outings.