Thirdy Ravena and Ange Kouame made the key plays late to help Gilas Pilipinas to a 74-73 overtime win over Tunisia in the King Abdullah Cup early Friday (Manila time) at the Prince Hamzah Sport Hall in Amman, Jordan.
Ravena went 1-for-2 at the line in the final seconds of the extra period to give the Philippines a one-point lead and a Kouame block and a team stop in the final three seconds saved Gilas from a late meltdown. Gilas improved to 2-1 in the tournament.
Kouame led all Gilas players with 12 points on 6-for-11 shooting along with seven rebounds, five assists, five blocks and two steals in an all-around effort. Dwight Ramos cooled down from a tremendous 21-point showing against Jordan-B on Thursday but still managed 11 points, three boards, two dimes, two swats and a steal.
SJ Belangel, meanwhile, added 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting and four assists in just 18 minutes for the Philippines.
Gilas trailed for the most part against the 2017 FIBA AfroBasket champions until late in the fourth quarter, where a big Rey Suerte triple tied the game at 66 and put the Nationals in a position to force a stop and set up one more possession in the final 37 seconds.
They did just that, but Dwight Ramos missed a triple and Justine Baltazar missed a putback shot that would have given Gilas the win in the clutch.
A pair of jumpers from Ravena and Carl Tamayo in overtime opened a 73-69 gap for Gilas at the 1:13 mark, but two free throws from Tunisia's Firas Lahiani and a drive from Ahmed Addami evened the game at 73 in the last 17 seconds and kept Gilas from running away with the win.
Fortunately, Ravena and Kouame were up to the task. Ravena drew a foul on offense after a timeout and split his free throws, then Koaume and two other defenders swarmed Achref Gannouni at the rim to prevent a late upset. Tunisia could not generate anything in the following inbounds play.
Ravena finished with seven points on 3-for-9 shooting, three rebounds, two assists and a steal for the Philippines, and Isaac Go provided a good lift off the bench once more and tallied eight points and two triples, three rebounds and two assists in just 12 minutes.
Matt Nieto threw in seven, while late-game heroes Suerte and Tamayo put up five apiece.
The Philippines shot 42 percent from the field, hit 10-of-33 threes (30.3 percent) and held Tunisia to just 33 percent in the win, though the team did concede 22 made free throws to its counterparts.
Gilas can still grab the top seed in the five-nation, six-team tourney, but it needs a win against Jordan-A (2-1) on Friday at 12 a.m. (Manila time), as well as an Egypt (3-0) loss to Tunisia (1-2) in the final day of the round-robin elimination round.
Only four teams will move on to the knockout semifinals, and only two teams from there can proceed to the title match.
PHILIPPINES 74 -- Kouame 12, Ramos 11, Belangel 10, Go 8, Ravena 7, Ma. Nieto 7, Baltazar 5, Tamayo 5, Suerte 5, Heading 3, Navarro 1, Ildefonso 0, Chiu 0.
TUNISIA 73 -- Marnaoui 19, Gannouni 16, Ochi 10, Jawadi 9, Lahiani 6, Chihi 5, Bouallegue 4, Yahia 2, Addami 2.
Quarters: 15-14, 36-31, 49-53, 66-66, 74-73.