Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Smart Gilas Pilipinas Defeated Japani FIBA ASIA CHAMPIONSHIP
Another day, another comeback.
One game after surviving Jordan in a controversial game that was put under protest because of eligibility issues surrounding Filipino-Americans Marcio Lassiter and Chriz Lutz, the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team sprung another surprise by holding off undefeated Japan, 83-76, in the FIBA Asia Championships for Men Tuesday in Wuhan, China.
With the win, the Philippines tied Japan in their group with similar 3-1 records, behind just China at 3-0. A win over Syria on Wednesday would likely give SMART-Gilas the 2nd seed in their group and the opportunity to avoid tougher competition in their first assignment in the knockout stage.
The Filipinos jumped off to a 8-2 lead to start the game, but the streaking Japanese went on a 15-0 run that bridged the 1st and 2nd quarters to take a 26-18 lead.
Japan looked like it would take a similar eight-point cushion to halftime before Lassiter finished a layup to beat the buzzer and cut the lead to just six.
SMART-Gilas, behind Marcus Douthit, Kelly Williams and Lassiter, took control of the game with masterful efforts on both ends of the floor in a dominant 26-12 quarter to enter the final period with an eight-point lead at 60-52.
From there, PBA MVP Jimmy Alapag kept the Philippines ahead with timely hits from three-point range and the free throw line. Alapag hit two threes early in the period and went 6-for-8 from the charity stripe as he scored 12 of his 15 points in the crucial 4th quarter.
Douthit scored a game-high 25 points, including 17 in a dominant second half, to lead the Filipinos in the win. Lassiter added 15 points while Williams scored 12.
Joji Takeuchi scored 22 points to lead Japan but missed a layup in the final minute that could have cut the SMART-Gilas lead down to just four.
Alapag knocked in two free throws to extend the lead to 82-74, but Chris Tiu made the mistake of fouling a Japanese player taking a three-pointer to give up three free throws.
Japan made two and intentionally missed the third shot, but the Filipinos successfully recovered the board and got the ball to Alapag, who completed the final margin with a split from the free throw line.
Japan stayed close by waxing hot from three-point range, knocking in 12 of their 33 shots from beyond the arc. But they missed plenty of easy opportunities from the charity stripe, hitting just 16-for-28 for a 57.1 percent clip.