Gilas Pilipinas makes it two-in-a-row, tops bracket in the 2019 FIBA WC Asian Qualifiers

MANILA, Philippines - Another sloppy and sluggish game for Gilas Pilipinas. But the nationals successfully defended their house and wrapped up the year with an immaculate 2-0 bracket record in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers after surviving a scary Chinese Taipei run, 90-83 on Monday night, November 27, 2017 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Matthew Wright made crucial three pointers in the final period
 Matthew Wright made crucial three pointers in the final period to survive the tough Chinese Taipei squad. Photo Credit:

Just like the way Gilas started against Japan, the nationals were once again sloppy and defenseless as they allowed Taipei to blitz a 10-0 run. Quincy Davis alone, posted a quick 7 points.

Prior to the game, Coach Chot Reyes warned his boys not to be over-confident and not to underestimate the Taiwanese team despite their convincing win over Japan 3 days ago. Reyes emphasized that they must treat their opponents with utmost respect.

Gilas barely caught up as June Mar Fajardo stepped in the court. Fajardo made it to 19-12 with over 3 minutes remaining in the first. The reigning PBA MVP even got Quincy Davis’ 2 personal fouls.

After 10 minutes of careless Gilas basketball, Philippines managed to comeback and trimmed the Taipei lead to just 5, 23-18.

Coach Chot wasn’t really happy on how Andray Blatche guarded Quincy Davis in the first and gave the latter a dozen points. To his dismay, Coach Reyes sent Blatche to the bench and let June Mar took over his role. Realizing his mistakes, Andray Blatche atoned his errors by chipping in significant numbers and crushing the boards as he re-entered in the 2nd period.

Rookie Kiefer Ravena converted a fastbreak layup that switched the lead to the Philippine side, 28-27. Aside from the momentum shift, created by Ravena, the former King Eagle stole another Taipei possession for an extra deuce.

Gilas Pilipinas managed to preserve its paper-thin lead, 44-42 at the end of the 1st half. June Mar Fajardo led the Philippine squad with 9 points.

Quincy Davis spent a little over a minute in the 3rd quarter and immediately went back to the sideline as he committed his 4th personal foul. Due to Davis’ absence, June Mar Fajardo continued to pummel Taipei under the basket and widened Gilas’ margin inch by inch.

Chou Po Hsun made a baseline jumper to regain the lead from Philippines, 61-60 with a minute remaining in the 3rd period.

Calvin Abueva intercepted a pass as the clock died down. Abueva attempted a hail mary shot but got fouled. Unfortunately, “The Beast” missed all of his 3 free throws that left Gilas with just a point lead, 63-62.

Matthew Wright started the final period with a trey. Wright’s long shot was just Philippines’ 3rd conversion in 14 attempts. Seconds after the first 4th quarter three pointer, Matthew Wright sank another triple.

Chinese Taipei threatened to overtake Philippines anew as they closed the gap to a half-shot with 6 minutes left in the game clock.

Slowly but surely, Gilas Pilipinas was showing its true form in the final phase of the 4th period. RR Pogoy joined Matthew Wright in three point shooting spree that gave Philippines its biggest lead of 8, 84-76.

Coach Reyes pulled out Kiefer Ravena who had a terrific night with 9 markers and brought Jayson Castro-William in to protect their lead and prevent an upset.

Gilas Pilipinas once again survived a scary run and wrapped-up 2017 with a 90-83 victory and a 2-0 clean slate record. Philippines is currently at the 1st place together with Team Australia in their bracket. Chinese Taipei on the other hand, dropped to 0-2 alongside Japan.

Team Philippines has 3 months to prepare before they face the Boomers on February 22 in Australia and fly back promptly to Manila to host Akatsuki 5 Japan on February 25.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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