|Junemar Fajardo soars for the jam. FIBA|
By Gil Moriones
MANILA -- Gilas Pilipinas is setting the tone and momentum to finish Group B of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers as winners after the big win against the struggling Chinese Taipei, 93-71 at Taipei Heiping Basketball Gymnasium at the capital city of Taiwan on Friday night.
June Mar Fajardo stunned the Taiwanese team with his career-high 22 points and four rebounds, making a lot of effective post moves to record his 75 percent field goal percentage and 4-of-5 from the line.
It was the slow start for the national quintet after the home team blasted off with a 12-4 scoring run in the first six minutes of the game.
But Jayson Castro made seven points to make the deficit trimmed to three at the end of first quarter, 19-16. Castro eventually listed 15 points in total in his jersey with four assists.
At the start of the second quarter, the duo of Terrence Romeo and Fajardo becam the answer to the rampaging fullback run of the Taiwanese.
Together with Matthew Wright, Castro, and Andray Blatche, the Gilas boys punished the zone defense of the Taiwanese in order to move on to the halftime break with a strong 44-37 lead.
The Taiwanese struggled anew at the beginning of third quarter as Fajardo owned the limelight with his points from the paint.
But Quincy Davis and Chen Kuan-Chuan helped Chinese Taipei draw to within eight at the end of third, 68-60.
The Philippines finally sealed the deal in the fourth quarter through a 25-11 rally to complete the series sweep against Chinese Taipei.
“We started strong as we knew they would start strong especially with Wen-Ting Tseng and Chin-Min Yang back in their lineup. We’re pretty happy with our start. Taipei shot the lights out but we expected it. We stayed patient,” national mentor Chot Reyes said.
Even if they already qualified for the second round, Gilas Pilipinas have the chance to finish Group B as the winners after Japan beat valiant Australia loaded with Milwaukee Bucks stars Matthew Dellevadova and Thon Maker, 79-78. They will carry identical 4-1 records to their showdown on Monday night, but Australia is still in the lead due to higher point difference against Philippines.
GILAS PILIPINAS 93 – Fajardo 22, Castro 15, Romeo 14, Blatche 13, Norwood 8, Pogoy 8, Wright 6, Rosario 5, Jalalon 2, Abueva 0, Maliksi 0, Aguilar 0.
CHINESE TAIPEI 71 – Davis 17, Cheng 13, Ying 11, Kuan 9, Yi 9, Tsin 7, Wen 3, Cheng 0, Yu 0, Creighton 0.
Quarterscores: 16-19, 44-37, 68-60, 93-71
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