OFF TO THE FINALS!
Gilas Pilipinas dominated a gritty Japan team in the fourth quarter to win their knockout semifinals, 81 to 70.
With the win, the Philippines will advance to the finals of the 2015 FIBA Asia Championships against host team China tomorrow at 8:30 PM. The winner of that game will have an outright slot in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Just like in their previous encounter, the Philippines had to rely on fourth quarter heroics to put away Japan. This time, the triumvirate of Andray Blatche, Jason Williams, and Dondon Hontiveros combined for 60 points.
It was a game of spurts in the first three quarters with neither team leading by more than eight points. The third quarter ended at 54-all but a three-pointer from Hontiveros and a jump shot from Williams put Gilas Pilipinas ahead by five – and Japan was never able to regain the lead again.
Despite being able to hit 13 three-pointers, Gilas Pilipinas failed to pull away from Japan because of the latter’s huge advantage in free throws. The Philippines only made 6/6 in charity shots while their opponents were able to convert 24/29. Gilas Pilipinas had 24 team fouls while Japan had 16.
Gilas Pilipinas also made it to the finals during the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships held in Manila, losing to eventual champion Iran. China successfully dethroned Iran, 70 to 57, in the other semifinals pairing.
The country last made it to the Olympics in 1972, where it was held in Munich, West Germany. The country scored wins over Senegal, Egypt, and Japan.
11:20 PM: Philippines ahead of Japan, 67-61. Under six minutes left.
11:15 PM: But take a look at this – we’ve been called for 19 team fouls as opposed to only 11 for Japan.
Here’s what’s worse – the free throw numbers (under 8:00 in Q4):
PH – 1/1
Japan – 16/19
11:10 PM: Gilas Pilipinas managed to establish an eight point lead midway of the third quarter but Japan managed yet again to tie the game toward the end, 54-all.
10:54 PM: Back to back triples by Jayson Castro puts the Philippines ahead by six, 50-44. Six minutes left in Q3.
10:40 PM: Score tied at halftime, 39-all.
It has been a game of spurts so far. Philippines led by five in the first quarter but Japan ended the opening period on a 6-0 run. Japan eventually went ahead by as much as six in the second quarter but Gilas Pilipinas managed to tie the game. Will this trend continue?
10:00 PM: The starting five for the Philippines – Blatche, Norwood, De Ocampo, Castro, Hontiveros
UPDATED, 9:45 PM (Manila time)
Gilas Pilipinas will take on Japan in a knockout semifinals match tonight in the second-to-the-last day of the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in Changsa, China. It will be the second
Earlier in the night, China successfully dethroned defending champions Iran, 70 to 57, to advance to the championship round of the tournament. China will play against the winner of the Philippines vs Japan game tomorrow night.
The team that will top the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship will have a slot in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th placers will meanwhile take part in one of the three Olympic wildcard qualifiers.