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Japan coach Lamas: "We can compete, but we cannot win"

Julio Lamas says Japan's "good" performance was not enough. Denver Lachica
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--Japan appeared to be pulling off an upset at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday night against Gilas Pilipinas.

It was a game of spurts as both squads had their own multiple shares of limelight.

In the part of the Japanese squad, the team started the game blazing, surprising Gilas with a 20-4 lead.

Gilas, especially when Kiefer Ravena checked in, then went on a 37-6 run to go up, 41-26, in the second quarter.

The "Akatsuki Five" went on a 15-2 blast to cut the lead down to just two, 43-41, only to see Troy Rosario drain a triple at the halftime buzzer to stretch Gilas' lead to five, 46-41, eventually providing the spark for Gilas' second half impression.

Japan had one final shot at stealing the game after going on a 13-1 run that cut Gilas' lead, which stood at 14, 85-71, with 4:33 to go to just two, 86-84, with 31.3 seconds remaining only that Jayson Castro scored on a teardrop with 10.6 seconds left that helped seal the win for the host squad.

[Related Story: Gilas averts disaster after sluggish start, downs Japan]

"We can compete, but we cannot win," rued Coach Julio Lamas after the game.

He expounded, "I think we can compete with [the Philippines] in the game, but job was not enough to win."

For Lamas, it should be credited to Gilas' physical brand of play.

"[The Philippines] played physical, and they topped our 16-point [lead]," he continued. "We stayed close but never stayed in front."

A bright spot for Japan in the game is its offense.

Anchored by the three aforementioned major rallies, the Akatsuki Five shot 49 percent (26-of-53) from the field.

"We played very good in offense," Lamas further said.

However, he rued his team failed to grab the loose ball after every Gilas miss.

Despite making only 46 percent from the field, Gilas actually had 24 more attempts and nine more made baskets than Japan, and credit that to 19 offensive rebounds by Gilas.

"They took many offensive rebounds. They had 19 second chances, and it's a lot, because many offensive rebounds lead to easy baskets," Lamas continued.

The offensive boards turned out to be the difference as Gilas grabbed 47 total caroms compared to only 29 by Japan.

Lamas also took notice of Japan's missed free throws.

Japan actually had more free throw attempts than Gilas owing to the latter getting into penalty quite often in the game.

However, Japan only made 24-of-39 charities, and the 15 missed freebies took a toll on the team especially that the game went down the wire.

"We missed many free throw shots," further rued Lamas.

In conclusion, Lamas said that being good is not enough to beat Gilas.

"We played good today, but to beat [the Philippines], we need to play very good," he said.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno