Gilas survives Japan to start World Cup Asian Qualifiers
Paul Lintag on Nov 24, 2017 08:04 PM
The Blur is back to his usual self as he leads Gilad Pilipinas to its first win of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers. (FIBA)
Gilas Pilipinas' road to back to the FIBA World Cup is off to a great start.
The Philippines scored a close 77-71 road win Friday against Japan to kick off Group B play of the Asian Qualifiers at the Komazawa Olympic Park Gymnasium.
With the Akatsuki Five recovering from a poor first half to engage Gilas to a competitive final 20 minutes, the Philippines had to rely on big plays from its veterans to pull through.
Holding on to a dangerous three-point lead in the final two minutes, Jayson Castro hit a booming trey to double the advantage for Gilas Pilipinas, 75-69, with 1:40 to go.
RR Pogoy then sealed the deal with a breakaway layup in the last 30 seconds as the Philippines took its first win of the first window of the qualifiers.
The Blur was the star of the show, leading the way for Gilas with 20 points, six rebounds, and seven assists. Naturalized center Andray Blatche also had himsef a fine game, going for 13 points, 12 boards, and five dimes.
Matthew Wright added 12 while Gabe Norwood finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Gilas was in control almost all game long save for the third period when the Japanese mounted a spirited rally to take the lead multiple times.
However, with Castro running point, the Philippines just had more composure against the hosts.
Makoto Hiejima was the high man for Japan with 20 points on top of five rebounds and five assists.
Gilas will host Taipei on Monday at the Araneta Coliseum to cap the opening window of the Asian Qualifiers.
PHILIPPINES 77 - Castro William 20, Blatche 13, Wright 12, Norwood 10, Fajardo 6, Aguilar 5, Abueva 5, Pogoy 5, Ravena 1, Alas 0, Rosario 0.
JAPAN 71 - Hiejima 20, Brown 10, Tanaka 10, Togashi 8, Baba 7, Harimoto 7, Shinoyama 4, J. Takeuchi 3, Ota 2, Furukawa 0, Uto 0.
Quarters: 18-10, 37-28, 59-55, 77-71.
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