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Gilas exacts revenge vs Argentinian coach

Jayson Castro and Andray Blatche lead Gilas to victory over Japan on Friday. (FIBA.com)

Jayson Castro and Andray Blatche lead Gilas to victory over Japan on Friday. (FIBA.com)

By JONAS TERRADO

Gilas Pilipinas got a measure of revenge against Japan coach Julio Lamas three years after falling short in their previous meeting to mark the national team’s winning start in the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers.

The Filipino cagers came close to beating world power Argentina, then-mentored by Lamas, in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain, losing 85-81 in a game that saw Gilas take a big lead in the first half before being denied of a comeback win in the final minutes.

Two nights ago, Gilas beat the Argentinian-born mentor and his Japan squad, 77-71, at the Komazawa Gymnasium in Tokyo to open its campaign in the Group B qualifiers. But instead of feeling vindicated, coach Chot Reyes expressed nothing but high praises for Lamas.

“Every team here (in Asia) has great coaches. It demands your best, it demands you to be at the top of your game and your adjustments, your focus has to be at a very high level because one slip could mean the ballgame,” Reyes said.

“I think coach Julio made great adjustments to start the third quarter and we had to make our counter adjustments and I think that proved to be important in this ballgame,” he added.

Gilas led for most of the way but allowed Japan to unleash a 12-0 run to start the third and trail 40-37. Crucial baskets by Jayson Castro and Andray Blatche late in the fourth allowed the Philippines to start its Group B campaign on a high note.

But Gilas obviously lamented on its 15-turnover showing, six of which came from Blatche. It’s three-point shooting – the trademark weapon of Reyes’ dribble-drive offense – was nonexistent for most of the first half before finishing with a 7-of-24 clip.

“For us to win our next game, we have to limit our turnovers, offensive rebounds also,” said Castro, who would also like to see Gilas control the boards for tomorrow’s home match against Taiwan at the Smart Araneta Coliseum after allowing Japan to grab 13 on the offensive glass.

Taiwan travels to Manila hoping to bounce back from being handed a sound 104-66 beating by Australia at home in Taipei, with naturalized player Quincy Davis being the lone bright spot with 17 points, five rebounds and four steals.

Meanwhile, Reyes also apologized to Lamas after Gilas decided to call a timeout with 0.2 seconds left and the game already decided because of confusion over the competition format.

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