Smart Gilas Pilipinas roared back from a 13-point deficit in the fourth period to pull the rug from under Japan, 88-84, and notch its fourth straight win in as many games in the 34th William Jones Cup in Taipei.
The Philippines joined Iran on top of the standings, both toting 4-0 cards.
Naturalized player Marcus Douthit led the Philippines’ charge in the payoff period, scoring nine of his game-high 26 points, on top of 13 rebounds and two blocks. The Filipinos, behind Douthit and Gabe Norwood’s seven markers in the fourth canto, staged an incredible 24-10 rally to seize the lead, 82-81, with just 2:13 left in play, after trailing by 13 points three times throughout the game.
Douthit added four more points below the two-minute mark to up Gilas’ lead to 86-81 before the young Japanese squad committed two costly turnovers as a result of the Pinoys’ pesky defense. But Japan’s top gunner Takatoshi Furukawa drilled in a trey with still 20.6 ticks remaining to cut his team’s deficit, 84-86. In the ensuing play, Jeff Chan was immediately fouled and sent to the line for two free throws, which he successfully converted to seal the win for the almost all-pro Philippine team.
Coach Chot Reyes’ wards continued playing inspired basketball after posting impressive wins over Jordan (88-78), Chinese-Taipei Team B (99-68) and KGC Korea (82-79). They play Lebanon (1-4) tomorrow at 8 p.m.
Without Douthit on the floor in the first seven minutes of the second period, the young Japanese squad stormed to a 47-36 lead via a 24-10 run ignited by quick transition baskets and long-range bombs by Ryota Sakurai, Makoto Hiejima and Kosuke Hashimoto. The Nationals also committed 11 turnovers in the first half.
But Gilas stepped up in both ends of the floor in the final period to complete the come-from-behind victory.
Meanwhile, Japan dropped to 2-3. From last year’s Jones Cup roster, only Atsuya Ota, Hashimoto and Sean Hinkley are seeing action this year for Japan’s national team. Even longtime American coach Thomas Wisman is no longer calling the shots for the Japanese, at least here in the Jones Cup. Japan also lost to Gilas I, 78-94, last year in this tournament.
Earlier, defending three-time champion Iran (4-0) blasted the USA (3-1), 97-89, in double overtime, to remain the only other unbeaten team in the tournament along with the Philippines.
Smart Gilas II (88) – Douthit 26, Chan 14, Tenorio 13, Norwood 11, De Ocampo 8, David 7, Mercado 6, Baracael 3, Fonacier 0, Reyes 0, Villanueva 0.
Japan (84) – Takeuchi 17, Watanabe 16, Sakurain 14, Tanaka 10, Hinkley 6, Hashimoto 5, Hiejima 5, Harimoto 3, Furukawa 3, Kanamaru 3, Ota 2, Kurihara 0.
Quarterscores: 26-23; 36-47; 58-71, 88-84