[PHOTO AT LEFT - RP’s Cyrus Baguio drives past a Sri Lankan defender. TIANJIN]

MANILA, AUGUST 7, 2009 (PHILIPPINE STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Powerade Team Pilipinas hardly broke a sweat against Sri Lanka and took a late workout last night as it warms up against Japan tonight.

The Nationals clobbered the lowly regarded Sri Lankans, 115-31, at the start of the 25th FIBA Asia championship at the Tianjin Gym here Thursday in a game where the Filipinos were hardly tested.

They built leads of as many as 84 points before sealing the victory at the start of their campaign for a spot in the 2010 World Championship, that includes meetings with Japan and Korea in the next two days of the preliminary round.

“I don’t think this game can be used as a gauge on how well we made our adjustments from Jones Cup. We’d wanted to try some things, but it’s hard to do in this game,” said coach Yeng Guiao.

“If the defense was there, we would have set up the patterns. We still wanted to polish many things in our set-up plays but we got the running game going. Hindi na namin pinigil (We didn’t hold back),” Guiao said.

Guiao considers their game against Japan at 9 tonight their first real test. He has another scrimmage this morning.

Against the Sri Lankans, the Nationals found a team wanting in so many ways.

“This is our first game in the Asian Championship since 1995 in Seoul, and the Philippines is really a strong team. We hope to improve through the next matches,” said Sri Lankan coach Ajith Kuruppu.

Taller, heftier and stronger, the Filipinos simply overpowered their rivals, starting the game with a 19-4 run and closing out with a 23-0 romp.

The Nationals actually had a jittery start, committing a number of errors and missing what seemed like easy shots.

But once they settled down, there was no stopping them, each one deadly at the break.

“(The jittery start was) normal for a first game. It took us a little while to settle down but it’s understandable, considering more than half of the team were first-timers in this level of competition,” said Guiao.

Talk n Text rookie Jarred Dillinger scored a game-high 21 points and, with 11 rebounds, was one of three RP players who came through with a double-double showing.

Curiously, Dillinger’s papers were questioned by Chinese officials on the eve of the opening day. He was, however, cleared later.

Asi Taulava got 15 points and 13 rebounds while Japeth Aguilar came through with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Arwind Santos with 16 points, Cyrus Baguio with 15 and Joachim Thoss with 11 were three other Filipinos who finished in double figures.

So overpowering were the Filipinos they scored 39 points on fastbreaks and 33 off offensive rebounds.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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