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Reyes commends "Akatsuki Five" for gallant stand against Gilas

Japan showed heart down the stretch, and Gilas coach Chot Reyes lauded the team. FIBA
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Japan may be 20 ranks below the Philippines in the FIBA rankings, but the former proved that it can keep in step with Gilas as if they are just close to each other.

Despite getting rattled offensively in the first half, mainly due to Gilas' defense, Japan went toe-to-toe with Gilas in the second half and came close to stealing an upset at home in Tokyo on Friday night.

"The important part of the ballgame was that even when we had a nice lead at the start, we knew they were going to come back because they're a quality team," Reyes said during the post-match press conference at the Komazawa Gymnasium. "We have a very high respect for the 'Akatsuki Five'. They're a very deep, skilled, talented, and well-coached team. We knew we're in for a very tough match."

Despite the late storm from the "Akatsuki Five", Gilas held on to a 77-71 win.

"When they did come back and grab that lead, we stayed calm. We did not panic. The players remained positive. That allowed us to stay in the ballgame and eventually get the victory," continued Reyes. "I think that was the most important part of the ballgame."

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