MANILA, Philippines (3RD UPDATE) — Gilas Pilipinas remained composed in the endgame to repeat on Japan, 89-84, and end the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on a high note at the Mall of Asia Arena Sunday, February 25.
Days after absorbing a crushing 68-84 loss to the Australia Boomers, the Philippine team showed composure down the stretch as they stymied Japan's comeback attempt from down 14 points.
Gilas mounted an 85-71 lead, their biggest of the game, midway the 4th quarter before the Akatsuki Five ignited a 13-1 run, capped by back-to-back Daiki Tanaka fastbreak layups, to cut the deficit to two points with 31.5 seconds remaining, 84-86.
Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler
#FIBAWC #ThisIsMyHouse https://t.co/eod3IQEXol https://t.co/PRvabOWbOd pic.twitter.com/VDwm7rM3Fy — FIBA World Cup (@FIBAWC) February 25, 2018
But Jayson Castro, who returned for duty after missing the Australia game Thursday, February 22, wouldn't let Japan embarrass the Philippine team before their home crowd. He banked a shot away from Ira Brown's outstretched arms for an 88-84 Gilas lead with 10.6 ticks left.
Japan had a chance to narrow the gap to one point but Tanaka's 3-point attempt missed.
After scoring just 8 points against Australia, Andray Blatche made his presence felt against the Japanese, who remained winless in 4 games in the Asian Qualifiers, with 18 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists and two steals.
Troy Rosario finished with 14 points and 4 rebounds off the bench while Kiefer Ravena chipped in 13 points, 5 assists and two steals in the win.
Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler
Castro chalked up 8 points, higlighted by back-to-back triples that put Gilas ahead 70-57 in the 3rd frame, to go with 3 assists while Calvin Abueva also had 8 points, 3 rebounds, two assists and a steal.
"Obviously we knew we're going to have a hard time because of the flight that we took. I think it showed in our start, we had a very flat start. But luckily our second group gave us a lot of energy and got us back into the ball game," said Gilas head coach Chot Reyes.
Gilas got buried by as much as 16 points early, 4-20, before going on a 17-2 salvo, courtesy of timely buckets by Ravena and Rosario, to end the maiden period down by just a whisker, 21-22.
. @OfficialSBPinc in the game and are looking red-hot ! #FIBAWC #ThisIsMyHouse https://t.co/PRvabOEApD pic.twitter.com/eUCNhSWWVA — FIBA World Cup (@FIBAWC) February 25, 2018
The Philippines then dropped a 12-0 bomb for a 34-22 lead in the second quarter, an advantage they carried until the final buzzer sounded.
The win secured Gilas, which improved to 3-1 for second place in Group B behind unbeaten Australia (4-0), a ticket to the next round of the Asian Qualifiers even if there is still a 3rd window to take place.
Makoto Hiejima paced the Akatsuki Five with 23 points and 4 rebounds.
Brown had 16 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals but missed 8 of his 10 freebies in the loss. Tanaka finished with 12 markers.
Chinese-Taipei hosts the Philippines in the 3rd window of the Asian Qualifers on June 29.
It will be the Philippines' turn to host Australia on July 2 to conclude the first round of the Asian Qualifiers.
Philippines (89): Blatche 18,Rosario 14, Ravena 13, Abueva 8, Castro William 8, Norwood 8, Fajardo 7, Pogoy 6, Aguilar 5, Jalalon 2, Wright 0
Japan (84): Hiejima 23, Brown 16, Tanaka 12, Shinoyama 9, Tsuji 8, Ota 6, Takeuchi 5, Uto 3, Harimoto 2, Furukawa 0, Hashimoto 0, Nagayoshi 0
Quarter scores: 21-22, 46-41, 72-61, 89-84
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.