Gilas Pilipinas rallies, fends off Chinese Taipei
Gilas Pilipinas held off Chinese Taipei, 90-83, to remain unscathed in the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers Monday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The long bombs finally dropped for the Philippines in the fourth quarter as Matthew Wright and Roger Pogoy found their marks late while Jayson Castro carried the team anew in the endgame.
But it was June Mar Fajardo who kept Gilas in the driver’s seat as he finally showed why he is a four-time PBA MVP with 17 points and eight rebounds, two assists, and two blocks, his finest performance as a member of the national team.
Castro was sensational again, pouring in a team-best 20 points on top of four rebounds, and four assists. He also scored the game’s last four points to put the game out of reach.
Wright fired all of his 11 points in the fourth period, going 3-of-4 from downtown, while Pogoy also had 11 markers.
Kiefer Ravena and Calvin Abueva also stepped up big for the Philippines as the two provided the much-needed energy after Gilas got off to a lackadaisical start. The two combined for 17 points, eight assists, and five boards.
Gilas climibed back from 14 points down as Taipei’s naturalized player Quincy Davis dominating the paint.
But Fajardo, Abueva, and Ravena came off the bench and reinvigorated the home team as they helped the Philippines come back to life and take a 44-42 halftime lead to set up the frantic finish.
Chinese Taipei kept itself in the game thanks to its hot shooting from beyond the arc, but the Taiwanese were dealt with a big blow after Davis fouled out with still 1:59 left.
Davis led Taipei with 20 points and nine rebounds while Chou Yi Hsiang added 17 markers and four rebounds and Huang Jhen got 16 points in a losing effort.
Gilas Pilipinas takes on reigning Fiba Asia champion Australia on Feb. 22 in the second leg of the Asian qualifiers before hosting Japan on Feb. 25.
The Filipinos and Aussies are in joint first place in Group B with similar 2-0 slates.
PHILIPPINES 90 – Castro 20, Fajardo 17, Wright 11, Pogoy 11, Ravena 9, Abueva 8, Blatche 6, Norwood 5, Aguilar 3.
CHINESE TAIPEI 83 – Davis 20, Chou YH 17, Huang 16, Liu 7, Tsai 6, Lee 6, Chou PC 4, Chou PH 3, Chen 2, Chiang 2, Hu 0, Lu 0.
Quarters: 18-23, 44-42, 65-64, 90-83.
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