Gilas Pilipinas

Gilas Pilipinas' Jamie Malonzo in the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers game against Lebanon. –FIBA BASKETBALL

Gilas Pilipinas’ Jamie Malonzo in the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers game against Lebanon. –FIBA BASKETBALL

BOCAUE, Bulacan — Jamie Malonzo felt at home at Philippine Arena as he put on a show in front of the 19,829 fans in Gilas Pilipinas’ 107-96 win over Lebanon in the Fiba World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers on Friday.

Last January 15, Malonzo helped Barangay Ginebra win the PBA Commissioner’s Cup crown by beating the Bay Area Dragons in Game 7, 114-99, before a record-breaking crowd of 54, 589 in Bocaue.

In his first Gilas game at the same venue, the 26-year-old winger picked up where he left off, delivering 15 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two blocks off the bench

“It was different I had a blue jersey in front of a red jersey this time. As far as the fans, the feeling of a big arena and just everybody there. I sort of felt at home for sure playing in front of that crowd again,” Malonzo said.

“It’s definitely exciting that I played here in Game 7 and played here tonight. It’s definitely a familiar feeling. It felt like home.”

Malonzo, who played his third straight window for the national team, said his goal was to have fun.

“I think my goal is just to have fun. I really didn’t know how it turned out so I just wanted to go out there the hardest I could for the country,” he said. “That’s what I did. It was fun, for sure, playing for the fans.”

The Filipino-American player also treated the fans with a two-handed highlight dunk off Scottie Thompson’s assist to give Gilas a 60-48 lead with seven minutes to play in the third.

“I’m happy that Scottie is gonna make the right play always. That’s the kind of point guard he is,” Malonzo said. “It fell on me and of course, I want to give the fans what they want to see, highlights and exciting basketball.”

Gilas tries to end the qualifiers eyeing its fifth straight win against Jordan on Monday before hosting the World Cup in August.


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