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BIG REBOUND FOR GILAS

THERE was no last quarter collapse for Gilas Pilipinas Monday night.

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The Nationals made sure of that by playing heads-up for majority of the game that spelled a 90-71 win over Japan that stoked expectations of their big finish in the second round of eliminations in the 27th FIBA Asia Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Marcus Douthit led the way with 19 points and 10 rebounds and the likes of Jeff Chan, LA Tenorio, Ranidel de Ocampo and Jimmy Alapag did their part as Gilas improved to a 2-1 slate and moved into solo third in Group E behind unbeaten Chinese Taipei and Qatar, both 3-0.

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Naturalized center JR Sakuragi had 19 points and 13 rebounds and star forward Takeuchi Kosuke 17 and nine, but Japan still dropped to a 1-2 record.

Gilas coach Chot Reyes said it was all about putting behind them a 79-84 loss last Saturday and starting to play a much better all-around game than the one that cost them a 13-point third quarter lead.

“We only talked about two things before practice yesterday and that is to forget the last game and start playing a complete game,” related Reyes.

“I think this is the first game where we took the lead in the first quarter and kept it throughout, so I think we’re getting better and improving. That’s a good sign for us,” he added.

Indeed, Gilas was humming on all cylinders, stretching a 10-point halftime lead to a high of 25 points twice, the last at 68-43, before sitting on a 75-51 lead into the last 10 minutes of play.

For a while, memories of the loss to the Taiwanese resurfaced after Japan strung up seven straight points to move within 58-77 and even closer at 63-79.

Alapag provided the much-needed spark with a triple to spike a six-point, six-assist game and Gary David, fielded at the final 3:37 mark, sandwiched another Chan triple with five points that helped ice the game.

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In all, Gilas held Japan to just 26-for-70 field shooting, committed less turnovers (10-18), had a whopping 24-12 advantage in assists and had more steals, 11-2.

“We’re hoping to generate more momentum from tonight,” said Reyes, whose charges take on Qatar Tuesday. (NC)

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