The Philippines will enter the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers with a clean 2-0 slate, after SMART Gilas Pilipinas escaped a pesky Chinese-Taipei squad, 90-83, Monday evening at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
SMART Gilas were coming off a 77-71 win over Japan last Friday, while Chinese-Taipei had been handed a 66-104 beatdown by Australia.
“Less than satisfactory but we are happy to get the W’s. Kaya lang we could have played much better,” said about his team’s performance in the first two games of the tourney.
After tallying 20 points against Japan, Jayson Castro once again scintillated with 20 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Matthew Wright scored all 11 of his points in the final frame to lead the Philippines’ huge fourth quarter surge.
Clinging to a solitary-point lead to start the final frame, Wright, who was just 0-for-2 in the first three quarters, knocked down a triple to start the quarter. As they say, you only need one shot to heat up. Wright knocked down another triple with 8:24 left to cap an 8-2 run that gave the Philippines a 73-66 cushion.
But Chinese-Taipei did not go down easily, countering with a run sparked by three freebies by Yi Hsiang Chou and capped by a bucket by Quincy Davis to cut the lead down to just six with 3:06 remaining.
Roger Pogoy then quelled the rally with a booming triple, while a basket by Wright and free throws by Kiefer Ravena gave the Philippines a 10-point cushion, 86-76. Ravena’s freebies stemmed from the fifth foul by Davis. With Davis out, the Taiwanese could not muster another, final rally.
June Mar Fajardo notched his career-high in a FIBA-sanctioned tournament with 17 points to go along with eight rebounds. His previous career-best was 15 points, doing it against Senegal in the 2014 World Cup.
“June Mar saved us. We had that terrible start. Good thing we have the luxury of bringing June Mar off the bench,” Reyes added.
Gilas got off on the wrong foot, falling behind by as much as 14 points, 19-5, to start of the game. Fajardo and Ravena, acting as the shock troopers for the team, led a huge 26-point second quarter to turn the tides of the contest.
Davis — who had frustrated Fajardo all game long — finished with 20 points and nine rebounds to lead Chinese-Taipei. Yi Hsiang Chou chipped in 17 markers, while Sharpshooter Jhen Huang added 16 points on an efficient 6-for-8 clip.
Andray Blatche was limited to just six points but was able to gobble down 14 rebounds.
The Philippines will next go on the road to face Australia on February 22, 2018.
Philippines 90 – Castro 20, Fajardo 17, Wright 11, Pogoy 11, Ravena 9, Abueva 8, Blatche 6, Norwood 5, Aguilar 3.
Chinese-Taipei 83 – Davis 20, Chou Y. 17, Huang 16, Liu 7, Tsai 6, Lee 6, Chou P.C. 4, Chou P.H. 3, Chen 2, Chiang 2, Hu 0, Lu 0.
Quarterscores: 18-23; 44-42; 65-64; 90-83.
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