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Gilas Pilipinas survives Japan to open FIBA Asia Second Round



Composure is the name of the game for Gilas Pilipinas escaped Japan, 73-66, as the road to Rio 2016 continues.

Though battling an injury for most part of the game, Andray Blatche managed to squeeze a double-double with an 18-10 point-rebound tally. Ranidel De Ocampo, Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, and Calvin Abueva combined for a total of 47 markers to help their foreign reinforcement.

For almost three minutes in the opening minutes of the game, Gilas Pilipinas held the Japanese squad scoreless, as they blasted six straight points to open their second round campaign of the tournament. After making his first three shots, Andray Blatche started to hit blanks in his next four. This started the cold spell for the Philippines as Japan surged ahead, 18-14, before the opening quarter ended.

Japan was able to convert two triples compared to none by the Filipinos in the opening stanza. Another blow for Gilas were two early fouls of the Nationals’ starting backcourt combination as both Dondon Hontiveros and Jayson Castro were pulled out early.

Down by just four entering the second quarter, Gilas Pilipinas traded baskets to keep it close at 22-17. Blatche, unfortunately, suffered a hit on his left knee that kept him out of the court for quite some time. As the focal point of Gilas’ offense sitting on the bench, the Japanese squad pushed for a 7-2 charge that led to a 10-point lead.

Two three-pointers the lead of Japan was erased as Gilas tied the knot at 29. The Filipinos managed to exchange baskets with their opponents before a trademark drive by Terrence Romeo gave Gilas the lead, 35-33, before going into the dugout. Gilas’ brightest spot in the first half was their perfect clip from the charity strip in eight tries.

With just a little over a minute gone by through the third canto, Blatche was forced to sit out once more after a successful post move for the first markers of the second half. The naturalized Filipino had a mild ankle sprain according to reports. With the count tied at 39, Gilas Pilipinas launched a 6-0 run. Romeo then connected on a deep corner three that gave Gilas a nine point cushion at 52-43.

Going into the final period with an eight point advantage, 46-54, Gilas Pilipinas scored just three markers on three free throw splits. Japan, meanwhile, had already scored eight during the same four minute stretch to close the gap at 54-57. Off a timeout by Tab Baldwin, another exchange of baskets by both squads occurred with Japan managing to tie it up at 64 apiece through another three pointer.

Through five unanswered points by Gilas, Japan was forced to sue for time with just 1:35 left to play. However, that 5-0 run was the telling blast that sealed the deal for the Philippines.

As Gilas Pilipinas managed to seal the deal against the hard fighting Japan national team, the squad made a good chance to place better going in to the next part of the tournament. Also, through Palestine’s loss to India, Philippines is now tied with the Palestinians at 2-1. Gilas Pilipinas is set to face the undefeated Iran national team tomorrow at 11:45.

The Scores:
Philippines (73) – Blatche 18, De Ocampo 13, Castro 12, Romeo 12, Abueva 10, Norwood 3, Thoss 3, Hontiveros 2, Taulava 0, Pingris 0, Ganuelas 0.

Japan (66) – Hiejima 17, Takeuchi 13, Ono 9, Fukuwara 7, Tanaka 6, Hashimoto 6, Tabuse 4, Ota 2, Arao 2, Hirose 0, Matsui 0.
Quarterscores: 14-18, 35-33, 54-46, 73-66