Japan sends Gilas home with blowout win to clinch last FIBA Asia QF seat

Japan thanked its fans for the support after stunning Gilas in their FIBA Asia Cup playoff showdown. FIBA
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Gilas Pilipinas' stint in the FIBA Asia Cup ended in a disaster after Japan knocked them out with a 102-81 win in their playoff first-round encounter on Tuesday night at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta.

Even with NBA player Yuta Watanabe exiting the game in the third quarter after an ankle injury, Japan played like a team on a mission as the "Akatsuki Five" scored its most significant win over the Filipinos at least in recent memory to set a quarterfinal date with Australia on Thursday night.

A far cry from how both teams would start their clash at least in the past 12 years, Japan shocked Gilas and raced to a 32-16 lead at the end of the first quarter even as the former sustained its good start in the second quarter.

Gilas thought it can capitalize on the absence of Watanabe, who had to be taken out of the arena on a wheelchair due to a grimacing pain on his ankle, but Japan's three-point shooting was on point to counter Gilas' own outside shooting spurt and the Philippine team eventually wavered down the stretch.

Yuki Togashi made 18 points, one rebound, six assists, and one steal for Japan, which beat the Philippines for the first time since the 2010 Asian Games.

Naturalized player Luke Evans imposed his will inside and added 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting, seven rebounds, two assists, and one steal.

Ray-Ray Parks made 16 points, one rebound, and three assists for Gilas, which missed the FIBA Asia Cup quarterfinals for the first time since a PBA-star laden roster missed the playoffs of the 2007 edition, interestingly enough with current Gilas coach Chot Reyes also the mentor of the Powerade-backed squad.

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