Injured Blatche shines as Gilas survives Japan

Despite sustaining an ankle injury in the second quarter, Blatche muscles his way into a double-double performance as Gilas beats Japan Sunday. FIBA

By Jeremy Marionne Manipol

CHANGSA – Naturalized center Andray Blatche endured an ankle injury to anchor Gilas Pilipinas to a hard-fought 73-66 victory on the way to their first win in the second round of the 2015 FIBA Asia tournament Sunday.

Despite injuring his right ankle early in the second quarter, Blatche came up with a crucial shot to put Gilas on a 71-66 lead with under a minute left to play.  

The former Brooklyn Nets star ended up with 18 points and 10 rebounds, despite shooting on a dismal 7-of-18 from the field.

Down 46-54 in the final frame, the Japanese cagers erected an 8-2 blitz to inch closer within two, 54-56.

Blatche later on converted a basket for Gilas in the 3:15 mark to hand Philippines a three-point breather, 61-64.

But Japan was just aggressive in the offensive end as Ryoma Hashimoto connected from the three-point  area en route to the equalizer, 64-all.

Ranidel De Ocampo, who chipped in 13 markers on top of five rebounds, two assists and a steal, scored a go-ahead triple to take back the lead for Gilas, 67-64.

The Filipino squad started strong as they managed to hold Japan scoreless during the first three minutes of the match, 6-0.

Japan immediately retaliated as Hiejema, who topscored for Japan with 17, responded with a triple to give them the lead, 16-14.

Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva registered 13, 12 and 10 points, respectively, for Gilas who will face the powerhouse Iran on Monday, Sept. 28.

Box Scores:

Philippines 73 – Blatche 18, De Ocampo 13, Castro 12, Romeo 12, Abueva 10, Norwood 3, Thoss 3, Hontiveros 2, Taulava 0, Pingris 0, Ganuelas 0.

Japan 66 – Hiejima 17, Takeuchi 13, Ono 9, Fukuwara 7, Tanaka 6, Hashimoto 6, Tabuse 4, Ota 2, Arao 2, Hirose 0, Matsui 0.

Quarterscores: 14-18, 35-33, 54-46, 73-66