Gilas gets another lifeline in Race to Paris as Japan clobbered by Australia

Xavier Cooks soars for the jam. FIBA
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Gilas Pilipinas' hopes of getting the lone Asian outright spot in the Paris Olympics men's 5x5 basketball event got a needed lifeline on Tuesday night as Japan, the other co-host country in the FIBA World Cup, missed the Top 16 cut after bowing to Australia, 109-89, at the Okinawa Arena.

Japan, fresh from showing that they have what it takes to survive the "group of death" after stunning Finland on Sunday night, was sent crashing back to earth by Australia, falling to a 57-35 hole by halftime.

Japan got its offense going in the third quarter after scoring 35 points, but Australia scored 30 of its own in the same period to keep its huge lead afloat and never looked back.

Oklahoma City Thunder rising star Josh Giddey led Australia, which joins Germany in the Top 16 round, with 26 points, five rebounds, and 11 assists, while Xavier Cooks added 24 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.

Josh Hawkinson fired 33 points, seven rebounds, one assist, one block, and one steal, while Yuta Watanabe added 24 points, seven rebounds, and one block for Japan, which has been relegated to the classification games.

Gilas needs to beat Italy by 12 points or more in the game which is ongoing at the Smart Araneta Coliseum here to make the Top 16 and hope that China, which plays Puerto Rico on Wednesday night, fails to qualify in the second round to ensure themselves of the best Asian finish in the FIBA World Cup, which means outright Paris Olympics qualification.

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