TAIPEI–Gilas Pilipinas unleashed two hot streaks of three-pointers to highlight a torrid second half that carried the Nationals to a crucial 75-60 win over Japan in the 2015 Jones Cup at the Xinchuang Gymnasium here Wednesday night.
Gabe Norwood, Gary David, Ranidel De Ocampo, Terrence Romeo and Jayson Castro combined for nine treys in those two blitzkriegs that flattened the Japanese and sent the Nationals within striking distance of tournament frontrunner Iran.
Gilas Pilipinas and Iran, title protagonists in the last FIBA Asia Championship in Manila, square off in a pivotal match at 1 p.m. Thursday.
The Filipinos (3-1) got to within half-game of the Iranians (4-1) after the latter were stopped on their tracks by USA Select-Overtake, 81-66.
Former Globalport import Calvin Warner came through with game highs of 34 points, 12 rebounds and five assists to lead the Americans to their second win in five matches.
Their bonding improved by their rugged, physical face-off with the Russians the previous day, the Filipinos watched each other’s back and played fluidly in their conquest of the Japanese.
“The bonding from the battle (against Russia) may have flowed to the spirit of the team,” said Gilas coach Tab Baldwin.
“The team is enjoying a great spirit. They’re enjoying each other’s company. Off-court chemistry is flowing on the court. They’re taking well that of being a member of the national team, and that’s what we’re supposed to do,” Baldwin added.
Moala Tautuaa held his ground against 6-foot-10 Japanese center Joji Takeuchi while Romeo, De Ocampo, Castro and David outplayed and outgunned their counterparts as Gilas delivered its brightest performance thus far here.
“It’s a big step forward on what the team wants to achieve. We’re getting better but not good enough yet to win FIBA Asia,” said Baldwin.
“Our second half (against Japan) was the best basketball we’ve played. In the first half, we played good defense. In the second half, we did a good job on both sides of the floor,” Baldwin also said.
“We played as a team and that’s the most important part,” said Tautuaa, holding the fort with Asi Taulava and Sonny Thoss resting.
Romeo again led the way with 16 points while Castro, De Ocampo, Tautuaa, Norwood and David added at least eight apiece for the Filipinos who blasted the Japanese, 46-33, in the second half.
De Ocampo, Norwood and Romeo strung up four straight points in Gilas’ first decisive run in the contest from 30-33 down.
The Filipinos poured it all in the fourth quarter, pulling away from a 46-44 count with a run highlighted by back-to-back jams by Tautuaa and five straight triples by Castro, David, De Ocampo and Norwood.
GILAS PILIPINAS 75 – Romeo 16, Tautuaa 10, De Ocampo 10, Castro 10, Norwood 9, David 8, Intal 3, Pingris 3, Rosario 2, Ganuelas 2, Ramos 0.
JAPAN 60 – Takeuchi 15, Hiejima 12, Furukawa 6, Tabuse 6, Kanamaru 5, Mitsuhara 4, Hirose 2, Arao 2, Hachimura 0, Hashimoto 0.
Quarters: 11-10, 29-25, 46-44, 75-60