Gilas Pilipinas buck a slow start but finished strong once again to repulse a pesky young Chinese-Taipei squad, 90-83, to earn their second win on the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Arena Coliseum Monday.
Jayson Castro scored 20 points to lead the Philippines Squad in scoring while reigning 4-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo contributed 17 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks off the bench. This was Fajardo’s best performance in Gilas uniform and in the international scene.
Roger Pogoy and Matthew Wright both contributed 11 points apiece while Andray Blatche struggled all throughout the game; forced to a number of turnovers but had 14 rebounds and 5 blocks.
Gilas got off to a sluggish start; trailing 19-5 to open the quarter. Fortunately they recovered quickly after scoring 10 straight points to come back to a striking distance.
Gilas was up only a single point before Castro again delivered for the national squad in the last quarter with his 3-point play that started a furious 9-2 run that pushed the lead, 84-76, with less than four minutes remaining.
“Obviously we’re happy because we found a way to grind out 2 Ws despite being nowhere near a 100 percent in our game but like I told the players after the game, you play as you practice. We had a terrible practice today, including missing free throws. We couldn’t make free throws in practice and it reflected in the ballgame today, that’s a good lesson to continue reminding us,” said head coach Chot Reyes of Gilas.
Chinese Taipei finished the first qualifying window with a 0-2 record; having lost to Australia on their home court last Friday.