MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) —Gilas Pilipinas shrugged off a lethargic start to eke out a 90-83 win over Chinese Taipei and swept the initial window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Araneta Coliseum Monday, November 27.
The visiting team kept it close early in the fourth period, 72-73, following a 6-0 blitz only to run out of steam midway in the quarter as Gilas used a 13-4 run to pull away, 86-76.
Jhen Huang scored a triple with a little under 2 minutes left in the game, 79-86, before Jayson Castro-William provided the proverbial dagger with an up-and-under move with 56.4 seconds remaining, 88-79.
Castro, who scored a game-high 20 points in Philippines’ 77-71 win over Japan last Friday, November 24, paced Gilas with another 20-point outing, 15 of which coming from the second half, to go with 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
Reigning 4-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo bounced back from a so-so performance in Tokyo with 17 markers, 8 boards and 2 blocks. He was also pivotal in putting Chinese Taipei’s tallest man, Quincy Davis III, into early foul trouble.
Matthew Wright poured in all of his 11 points in the fourth period, highlighted by back-to-back triples that put the Filipinos up 73-66, while Andray Blatche overcame a woeful shooting night with 14 rebounds, 5 blocks and 3 assists.
“Obviously we’re happy because we found a way to grind out 2 Ws despite being nowhere near a 100 percent in our game but like I told the players after the game, you play as you practice. We had a terrible practice today, including missing free throws. We couldn’t make free throws in practice and it reflected in the ballgame today, that’s a good lesson to continue reminding us,” said head coach Chot Reyes of Gilas, which shot 20 of 28 from the line.
Gilas came back from a 14-point deficit at the beginning of the first quarter, 5-19, behind an 11-0 run, 16-19, before nabbing the lead in the following period off a 10-0 spurt, 5 points coming from Kiefer Ravena, 32-27.
Davis III paced the Taiwanese with 20 points and 9 boards while Yi-Hsiang Chou added 17.
Gilas will have months to prepare for its next game against Australia on February 22, 2018 in a venue yet to be announced.
The victory was Gilas’ second in a row in Group B. Taiwan slipped to 0-2.
In another Group B game, Australia beat Japan, 82-58, Monday to also collect its second win in Adelaide, Australia. The Aussies earlier beat Chinese-Taipei, 104-66, Friday, November, 24.
Gilas (90): Castro-William 20, Fajardo 17, Pogoy 11, Wright 11, Ravena 9, Abueva 8, Blatche 6, Norwood 5, Aguilar 3
Chinese Taipei (83): Davis III 20, Y. Chou 17, Huang 16, Liu 7, Chai 6, Lee 6, Po-Chen Chou 4, Po-Hsun Chou 3, Chiang 2, Hu 0, Lu 0
Quarter scores: 18-23, 44-42, 65-64, 90-83