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Team Pilipinas squandered a 19-point lead then saw Jayjay Helterbrand’s final shot got blocked as Japan won a tight game marred by lead changes and quick runs from both teams, 87-85 in the 31st William Jones Cup in Taiwan.

Just like in the previous game, the Philippines took a quick lead in the first quarter capitalizing on Japan’s erratic ball handling and poor shooting. With Japeth Aguilar at the helm, Team Pilipinas dominated the first 10 minutes, 27-12.

The second quarter saw Team Pilipinas erect their biggest lead at 36-17 but then the team began to relax and coast allowing Japan to close the gap to 4 at halftime, 40-36. The half saw a highlight of Gabe Norwood’s follow-up reverse slam off a missed 3-pointer from Kerby Raymundo.

The 3rd quarter saw a see-saw battle with RP again erecting a 54-42 lead with Japan countering with a run of its own. The score was all tied at 61 entering the final period.

It was tight all game with both teams turning the ball over several times until Japan finally seized control 77-72. Both team exchanged baskets with Japan leading by 4 with 19 seconds left, 86-82. Jared Dillinger then drilled a clutch triple to cut it to one. A split free throw by Japan allowed RP to have one more shot. In a bizarre ending, Jayjay Helterbrand inbounded on an opponent’s back getting back the ball as he tried which was supposed to be the game winning shot. Unfortunately, his shot was blocked by Japan.

Coach Yeng Guiao seldom called timeouts as he wants his team to adjust with themselves whenever Japan rallies. I believe Guiao wasn’t really looking for a win but a good combination and chemistry right for Tianjin. In this game, he started with Aguilar at center, Norwood & Dillinger at forwards, and Miller and Baguio at the guard position.

Scores:

JAPAN 87 -– Takeuchi 24, Kashiwagi 12, Takeda 9, Ishizaki 9, Amino 7, Orimo 7, Sakurai 7, Igarashi 5, Ito 4, Okada 3.

RP 85 -– Aguilar 17, Miller 14, Santos 10, Thoss 8, Dillinger 8, Raymundo 5, Yap 5, De Ocampo 5, Norwood 5, Baguio 4, Helterbrand 2, Taulava 2.

Quarters: 12-27; 36-40; 61-61; 87-85.

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