For the first time in 12 years, the Akatsuki Five stood over Gilas Pilipinas Men.
Japan scored a wire-to-wire win over the Philippines, 102-81, to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2022 FIBA Asia Cup, Tuesday at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The last time Japan defeated the Philippines was back in the 2010 Asian Games via a 60-58 decision. In the continental cup meanwhile, this is Japan’s first victory over the Philippines since the 2003 ABC Championship, winning 66-64.
The Philippines also missed the top eight of the Asia Cup for the first time since 2007.
“Well, obviously, the result is not what we wanted. Again, we are very sorry that we’ve disappointed a lot of our countrymen, our fellow Filipinos,” said head coach Chot Reyes. “Like I said, we brought a very young team here and the experience is just going to make them better.
“To be able to be exposed to that kind of intensity and level of play here in the Asia Cup, there is not one player on our team in the 12 players that have been in the Asia Cup. This is all their first time. So, like I said, we wished to get at least into the top eight but we weren’t able to get the job done,” he continued.
Unlike their last two wins over the Philippines, the Akatsuki Five were simply dominant.
Behind the trio of Yutaroh Suda, Yudai Nishida, and Yuta Watanabe, Japan raced to a 19-7 lead and never looked back.
Suda, Nishida, and Watanabe scored six points each in the opening frame, outscoring the entire Philippine squad, who fell behind 32-16.
“Japan came out with a game plan. Credit to them for the game they played. They forced us to 17 turnovers. That’s the ballgame. Basically, the big deficit in the first quarter was our big problem,” lamented Reyes.
Watanabe suffered a left ankle injury with seven minutes left in the third canto. He finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.
Yuta Watanabe twisted his left ankle and had to be wheelchaired off the playing area#FIBAAsiaCup
— Tiebreaker Times (@tiebreakertimes) July 19, 2022
But even with Watanabe out, Japan continued to pour it on, enjoying a double-digit lead that reached a peak of 28 points in the last 10 minutes of the game.
Yuki Togashi led the high-paced Japanese offense with 18 points on five treys with six assists. Luke Evans got 17 points and seven rebounds, as well.
Also scoring in double-figures were Nishida (15) and Suda (14).
All in all, Japan knocked down 13 triples and went 23-of-25 from the foul stripe in the contest.
“Japan’s game is really predicated on creating a lot of space for the penetrators and forcing helps to open up their three-point shooters. We tried to stay home on the three-point shooters as much as possible, but they did a great job getting deep into the shaded line and getting free throws in the process. I thought we did a good job with their three-point shooters except for the transition and the offensive rebounds. That’s very hard to control,” said Reyes.
“In the end, Japan got a lot of opportunities. I thought we also had pretty good opportunities, we just couldn’t convert. That’s the story of the ballgame. That’s basketball. The team that makes the shots almost always wins. The free throw story showed how well they attacked.”
B.League imports Kiefer Ravena and Bobby Ray Parks led Gilas with 15 and 16 points, respectively. Carl Tamayo, who fouled out late in the game, added 10 markers.
Japan will next face Australia on July 21 at 6:30 PM.
Philippines 81 – Parks 16, K. Ravena 15, Tamayo 10, Belangel 9, Erram 7, Quiambao 6, Abarrientos 5, Navarro 4, Lopez 3, T. Ravena 2, Chiu 2, Abando 2.
Japan 102 – Togashi 18, Evans 17, Watanabe 15, Nishida 15, Suda 14, Harimoto 9, Yoshii 7, Sato 5, Inoue 2, Kawamura 0, Tominaga 0, Toews 0.
Quarterscores: 16-32, 34-50, 63-77, 81-102.
Highlights of the games will also be on SMART Sports.