By Maxine Louise Lagman
27 November 2017
Gilas Pilipinas shrugged off a slow start to finish strong against the Chinese Taipei, 90-83, and remain unscathed in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Starting out slow, Kiefer Ravena and Calvin Abueva came off the bench and provided the boost that Gilas needed, along with four-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo as they take a 44-42 halftime lead.
Coming into the final frame, Gilas Pilipinas was clinging to a point lead, but Matthew Wright provided the most needed shots in the game as he knocked down a booming triple to boost the squad. He even capped off an 8-2 run with another trey that gave them a comfortable 73-66 lead.
The Chinese Taipei managed to close in the game as they leaned on Yi Hsiang Chou and Quincy Davis to cut the lead to just six, 3:06 left in the game.
But Taipei received a big blow as Davis was fouled out of the game with still 1:59 left and Gilas continued to make a run and cap off the game with a win.
Fajardo overcame his career-best record of 15 points back in the 2014 World Cup as he now tallied 17 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
Jayson Castro topped Gilas with 20 points, along with four rebounds and four assists. Meanwhile, Wright knocked down all of his 11 points in the last quarter and Roger Pogoy added another 11 markers.
Davis led Taipei as he flirted with a double-double of 20 points and nine rebounds, while Chou Yi Hsiang chipped in 17 points and four rebounds. Huang Jhen added 16 points in the losing effort.
Gilas Pilipinas shares the first spot with reigning FIBA Asia champion Australia with an identical 2-0 slate. They will be clashing on February 22 in the second leg of the Asian qualifiers before hosting Japan on February 25.
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.
Quarterscores: 18-23, 44-42, 65-64, 90-83.
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