Gilas Pilipinas wins against Japan in FIBA WC Asian Qualifiers

    MANILA, Philippines - Despite the slow and sluggish start, national team Gilas Pilipinas, led by Jayson Castro-William still managed to escape Japan with a 77-71 convincing win in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Friday, November 24, 2017 in Tokyo Japan.

    Jayson Castro-William led Gilas with 20 points to cop Philippines’ 1st win in the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers.
    Jayson Castro-William led Gilas with 20 points to cop Philippines’ 1st win in the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. Photo Credit: Inquirer.net
    Fact: Japan hasn’t won against the Philippines in international basketball scene for at least a decade now. Today, Gilas Pilipinas will try to continue the winning streak in the homeland of the Akatsuki 5.

    With less than a month of practice, the nationals were obviously not in their top shape as they kept on firing blanks as the tournament unfolded. Good news though, Japan had a cold start as the Philippines.

    Midway of the opener, the score was 4-3 in favor of Philippines. Defensive stops like numerous blocks were Gilas’ only highlights until Japeth Aguilar and Gabe Norwood hyped up the crowd with a back-to-back slams.

    Gilas finally found its rhythm and posted its first double-digit lead 14-3 under 3 minutes of the first. June Mar Fajardo dropped 2 consecutive baskets in less than 30 seconds to help Philippines savor the convincing advantage.

    After the first 10 minutes, Gilas Pilipinas had an 8-point, 18-10 lead.

    Calvin Abueva started the 2nd quarter for Coach Chot Reyes and without any hesitation, “The Beast” drove hard to the basket couple of times for an instant 5 points under his name.

    Philippines’ tough defense continued in the 2nd quarter. Gilas blocked Japan under the rim 7 times courtesy of the big men: Andray Blatche, Japeth Aguilar and June Mar Fajardo.

    Japan, led by Makoto Hijiema fought back and managed to tear down the lead to just 6 with 4 minutes remaining in the half but Jayson Castro-William was able to bring it to 10 as he ended Philippines’ 3-minute scoring drought.

    Matthew Wright beat the the halftime buzzer off Andray Blatche’s almost-turnover and gave Philippines a 9-point, 37-28.

    Andray Blatche committed 2 consecutive turnovers that gave Japan a quick 7-0 run. Gilas’ lead was chipped to 2 with just 2 minutes gone by in the third period.

    Tenketsu Harimoto connected from the outside followed by Yuki Togashi’s triple as Akatsuki totally grabbed the lead from Philippines.

    Andray Blatche checked back in after being sent back to the bench for committing costly errors. The naturalized player’s presence under the basket gave Philippines the advantage anew 53-46 with 2 minutes remaining in the third.

    For the second time, Philippines beat the quarter buzzer. Dray Blatche connected from the arc as the clock winded down for the 59-55 slim advantage.

    Gilas intensified its defense in the beginning of the final quarter. But Japan got few loose ball possessions and made them into significant points to keep the game close. 63-60 in favor of Philippines with 6:29 left.

    Japan was slowly coming back in the game. Lucky for Gilas, Akatsuki consumed its team fouls early in the fourth.

    Gilas once again jotted down another double-digit lead, 70-60 with over 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Japan however, threatened to snatch the numbers again from Philippines. The margin was trimmed to just 4 with 2:50 remaining in the clock.

    With less than a minute left, Gilas Pilipinas was up by 6 points. Jayson Castro started to melt the clock down to protect his team’s 2-possession advantage.

    Roger Pogoy stole a ball from Yuki Togashi that could’ve triggered an upset. Pogoy, the reigning Rookie Of the Year of PBA, drove straight to the goal as he placed the icing on the cake.

    Gilas escaped the scary Akatsuki run, 77-71 and will go home with a win. Philippines will face Chinese Taipei next in Manila on Monday, November 27.

    WATCH: Japan vs Philippines | FIBA World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers

    — Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express
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