|Photo courtesy of FIBA.com|
Gilas set their date with destiny tomorrow, as they outlasted Team Japan 81-70, and booked a seat opposite host China for the right to call themselves the best team in Asia as well as the lone ticket to the Rio Olympics.
Japan gave us a hard time once again, sticking with us until the end of the third quarter, when the score was still tied 54-all. It took the sniping of veterans Dondon Hontiveros, Ranidel de Ocampo and the stellar overall play of Jayson Castro and Andray Blatche for Gilas to finally put the game out of reach.
Here are the four difference makers for Gilas in their victory over Japan:
Defense on Makoto Hiejima – Hiejima was a revelation in this game, scoring 22 points in the first half alone. That’s an amazing feat, considering Hiejima was averaging 14 points per game. Then, in the second half, Dondon Hontiveros, Gabe Norwood, and Calvin Abueva took turns making Hiejima sweat blood for his points. All that running around to get free from those three finally took its toll on Hiejima, who scored just 6 points in the second half and, in one sequence, couldn’t get back into Japan’s own half of the court, forcing one of his teammates to fould Castro just to avoid a 5-on-4 situation. On a side note, Norwood also turned in some brilliant defense in the last minute, getting 2 late steals to seal the game.
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