TAIPEI – Another brave fight back, another rousing win for Smart Gilas- Pilipinas.
The Nationals completed a huge fourth quarter rally to escape with an 88-84 win over Japan and remain unbeaten in the 34th William Jones Cup on Wednesday night at the TPEC gymnasium.
The result of what coach Chot Reyes referred about putting a `weird combination’ on the floor, the Filipinos found themselves trailing by as many as 36-47 at the half, and 58-71 entering the pivotal fourth.
But like in their 82-79 come-from-behind victory against South Korea the other day, the Nationals found a way to gut out the win and improved to 4-0 overall for a tie of the lead with defending champion Iran.
The Iranians earlier outlasted the United States in a controversial double-overtime game, 97-89.
The Nationals improved to 4-0 in a tie with the Iranians. The two teams face off on Friday at 3 p.m. in what could be the championship game of the annual tournament held in honor of the late Fiba secretary-general.
Big man Marcus Douthit led the Nationals with 26 points, 13 rebounds, and three block shots, while Gary David sparked the team’s comeback by making five of his seven points at the height of Gilas’ huge rally.
But it was the Rain or Shine tandem of Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan who made the big plays down the stretch that sealed the win for Gilas.
Chan added 14 points and Norwood 11, including a pressure-packed three-pointer from the left corner that gave the Nationals the lead for good, 82-81, with 2:11 to go.
A no-look, over-the-head pass by Chan to Douthit inside the paint, gave Gilas an 86-81 lead, before the former Far Eastern University shooting guard iced the game with two free throws inside the final 20 seconds.
“Tonight wasn’t pretty at all,” Reyes admitted. “It’s not only the win, but the learning that’s important to us. When teams make runs on us and erect big margins, that’s my fault because I keep trying weird combinations.”
That weird combination by Reyes had the 6-foot-10 Douthit sitting on the bench starting the second period, which the Japanese capitalized by holding the Nationals to just four points in the first seven minutes of the quarter to take with them an 11-point lead at the half.
The Nationals didn’t really get things going until midway into the fourth period when David came off the bench and provided instant offense. They later held the Japanese to just three points in the final 3:11.
“I saw in their eyes (when we were down by 13), and they still had a lot of energy,” Reyes recalled. “I knew we could still fight back.”
Smart Gilas returns to the floor on Thursday, playing Lebanon at 3 p.m.
Seven-foot Kosuke Takeuchi topscored for 17 points, while Ryota Sakura added 14 for Japan, which tumbled to its third loss in five outings.
Smart Gilas (88) -- Douthit 26, Chan 14, Tenorio 13, Norwood 11, de Ocampo 8, David 7, Mercado 6, Baracael 3, Reyes 0, Fonacier 0, Villanueva 0.
Japan (84) -- Takeuchi 17, Watanabe 16, Sakurain 14, Tanaka 10, Hinkley 6, Hiejima 5, Hashimoto 5, Harimoto 3, Furukawa 3, Kanamaru 3, Ota 2, Kurihara 0.
Quarterscores: 26-23; 36-47; 58-71, 88-84