Castro saves Gilas Pilipinas from Japanese invasion
Paul Lintag on Feb 25, 2018 09:26 PM
The Japanese were within two points, 84-86, with 31 seconds to go before Jayson Castro saved the Philippines once again, hitting a floater under duress to give Gilas a four-point lead in the final 10 seconds.
MANILA, Philippines --- Gilas Pilipinas is perfect at home so far despite yet another terrible start.
The Philippines frustrated the visiting Japanase Sunday at the MOA Arena, scoring a hard-fought 89-84 win in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Gilas bounced back from a previous loss to Australia to improve to 3-1, good for solo second place in Group B behind the Boomers. The win also allowed the Philippines to move on to the second round.
The Akatsuki Five are still winless after four games.
The Japanese were within two points, 84-86, with 31 seconds to go before Jayson Castro saved the Philippines once again, hitting a floater under duress to give Gilas a four-point lead in the final 10 seconds. Andray Blatche hit one of two free throws with 5.5 seconds left to complete the win for the Filipinos.
"That's why we have Jayson. That's why we made sure Jayson is in this line-up," head coach Chot Reyes said.
"We rested him the last game to make sure he was ready for tonight because he's our premier closer. He came through tonight," he added.
Andray Blatche played his best game in these Asian Qualifiers, scoring a team-high 18 points on top of 16 rebounds to lead the Philippine attack in the second half.
Blatche did his best work in the third period, pouring seven points and six rebounds as Gilas took an 11-point lead into the final 10 minutes.
The Philippines needed every bit of that cushion as Japan fought until the very end, making sure Gilas worked for its second-straight home win.
After Blatche, the returning Troy Rosario was the high man for Gilas, scoring 14 points in just 11 and a half minutes. Troy, playing his first game since his bad fall against Phoenix in the PBA that caused him to be confined to the hospital, drilled 10 points in the second period, leading the Philippines' bench mob.
Speaking of the bench mob, Kiefer Ravena played a reserve role and added 13 points for Gilas while Castro finished with eight points, all in the second half. The Blur's "game winner" was his only make in the fourth quarter.
Makoto Hiejima led the Japanese offense with 23 points while Ira Brown finished with 16. Daiki Tanaka, crucial to Japan's late fourth-quarter rally, ended up with 12 points.
For the second straight game, the Philippines failed to start strong at home as the Japanese opened up an early 20-4 lead.
And for the second straight home game, it was Ravena that sparked a quick rally for Gilas Pilipinas.
The Phenom drilled two triples to ignite a 17-2 run for the Philippines to close the opening period, cutting the deficit to one, 21-22, after 10 minutes.
Behind its bench, Gilas pounded the Akatsuki Five in the second quarter, scoring 18 straight points.
The Philippines was leading by as many as 15 points after team captian Gabe Norwood buried a triple on the break, 41-26, before Japan responded with a blitz of its own to come to within two points, 41-43.
Castro found TNT teammate Troy Rosario for a corner triple as Gilas took a five-point lead back to the locker room.
Gilas will take a break now and will start the third and final window of the first round in June on the road against Chinese Taipei. The national team will then host the Boomers in a rematch at the Philippine Arena on July 2.
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.
Quarters: 21-22, 46-41, 72-61, 89-84.
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