The second day of festivities in the #Fiba Asia Cup 2017 couldn’t have gone any better for the Philippines, Iraq, Iran, and Jordan as they won their first game assignments. Luckily for China, Qatar, India, and Syria, they still have a number of games to bounce back.

Game of the day: Philippines exact revenge on China for FIBA Asia Championships 2015 finals loss

The Philippines and China have a long history in competitive basketball. While Chinese have the size advantage, they make up for it with their speed. The last time the two teams met was during the FIBA Asia Championships 2015 in China where the home team got the better of the Philippines.

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However, the Philippine squad was determined to show that it can win against the heavily favored China squad on equal footing. #Gilas Pilipinas started out hot, taking a 10 point lead after the first quarter that they extended to 14 points at half time. China, proving that they aren’t going to just back down and crumble, fought back valiantly and cut the Philippines’ lead to 6 at the end of the third quarter. The Chinese even took the lead early in the fourth quarter but they couldn’t sustain their momentum.

While the Chinese have the taller team, the Filipinos countered the height advantage by speeding up the game. Team captain Jason Castro William and spitfire Terrence Romeo bamboozled the Chinese defense as the seemingly penetrated at will, finding the open man for easy baskets.

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But it was Romeo who saved the Philippines when the Chinese threatened to steal away the victory.

Trailing 87-84, Romeo hit a three and a fancy fadeaway to give the Philippines an 89-87 lead with 2 minutes 12 seconds left in the game. From there, it was all Philippines as China failed to score another point. The Philippines won the game 96-87.

Romeo led all scorers with 26 points and added 4 assists. Chinese superstar Guo Ailun led his team with 18 points. The Philippines is now favored to come out on top of the Group B.

It was a bittersweet win for the Gilas Pilipinas as they played without naturalized big man Andray Blatche who wasn’t included in the lineup, and Philippine Basketball Association MVP Jun Mar Fajardo who was sitting out with a calf injury. China was without their twin tower mainstay Yi Jian Lian and Zhou Qi. That being said, both teams fielded a relatively young squad who will face each other for a long time in international competitions.

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Day 2 round up and Day 3 schedule

In the other Group B action, Iraq also pulled an upset of some sorts as they defeated Qatar 75-66. Iraq used a huge third quarter run, outscoring Qatar 20-9 in that period, to secure its first win in the tournament.

Naturalized swingman Kevin Galloway led Iraq with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Abdulrahman Saad scored 23 points and had 5 rebounds for Qatar. China, Philippines, Qatar, and Iraq are grouped in Group B, labeled as the group of death.

In Group A action, Iran stamped its class over India, winning 101-54 while Jordan edged Syria 68-66. Ex-NBA player Hammed Haddadi scored 20 points in just 26 minutes of action for Iran while Amjyot Singh chipped in 10 points for India. Mousa Alawadi of Jordan scored 16 points to lead his team while Tarek Aljabi scored 25 points and grabbed 7 rebounds for Syria.

Day 3 swings into action today with South Korea taking on Kazakhstan in Group C. South Korea lost their opening game against the host Lebanon while Kazakhstan was defeated by the new comers New Zealand. Lebanon will face New Zealand in the night cap.

In Group D, Chinese Taipei takes the court against Japan while Australia faces Hong Kong. Australia won their opening their match against Japan while Chinese Taipei clobbered Hong Kong.

The FIBA Asia Cup 2017 (formerly FIBA Asia Championships) is being held at the Nouhad Nawfal Stadium in Lebanon.