Castro returns, rescues Gilas Pilipinas in close win over Japan
Jayson Castro made the game-sealing floater with 10.6 seconds left as Gilas Pilipinas bounced back with an 89-84 win over Japan Sunday in the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Philippines lost a 15-point lead but denied the visitors the upset behind Castro and Andray Blatche, who split his charities with 5.5 ticks remaining.
The Filipinos rose to 3-1 in Group B of the first round of the qualifiers, sweeping Japan in their home-and-away series and clinched a spot in the second round.
Blatche had his best outing to date in the World Cup qualifiers, finishing with 18 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a block in 30 minutes of play.
Troy Rosario also had a triumphant return, firing 14 markers on 2-of-4 shooting from three and grabbing four boards, while Kiefer Ravena provided the spark 13 points, two rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Castro, who returned to the lineup after missing the game against Australia due to an ankle sprain, had all of his eight markers in the second half.
Missing six of its first eight shots, Gilas’ lackluster start saw the visitors run to a 20-4 lead before Ravena turned the tide and ignited a 17-2 blast to close the gap, 22-21, at the end of the first quarter.
Rosario kept that flame burning in the second quarter as the Philippines staged a 20-4 run to grab a 41-26 lead. Makoto Hiejima and Ira Brown conspired to help the Japanese recover and pull within two, 43-41, before Rosario ended the first half with a booming triple for a 46-41 halftime edge.
Blatche finally played true to form in the third frame, keeping Gilas in front before Castro and Calvin Abueva picked up the slack late and give the home team a 72-61 lead at the end of the period.
Gilas Pilipinas faces Chinese Taipei in Taiwan on June 29, before seeking retribution against Australia at Philippine Arena on July 2 to wrap up the first round of the Asian qualifiers.
Hiejima paced winless Japan (0-4) with 23 points, four rebounds, two assists, and two blocks, while Brown got 16 markers and eight boards.
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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