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Asi Taulava scored all of his 11 points in the second half including 9 in a 16-4 run to start the 4th quarter as Team Pilipinas rallied to beat Japan, 78-69, to notch their second win in Group A in the FIBA Asia Men’s Basketball Championship in Tianjin, China.

The Philippines started slow and Japan quickly pounced on the Filipinos lethargic first quarter opening a 16-5 lead. Japan’s 6’9 Kosuke Takeuchi and guard Ken Igarashi provided the spark until Gabe Norwood hit a buzzer beating 3-point shot to end the quarter cutting the lead t0 22-17.

James Yap, in his first game since returning from the burial of former Pres. Cory Aquino, announced his presence with a 3-pointer. It was a see-saw battle in the second period with Japan still leading 41-35 at the half.

The Philippines then made its run in the second half and Willie Miller’s undergoal stab gave the Philippines its first taste of the lead, 50-49. Shinsuke Ito then converted 2 free throws to give back the lead for Japan but Cyrus Baguio quickly erased it with a fastbreak drive.

A 16-4 run beginning the final period gave Team Pilipinas a 72-57 lead which Japan never recovered. It was an impressive defensive effort by RP holding Japan to 28% FG shooting.

Joachim Thoss scored 15 points and grabbed 8 rebounds to lead the Philippines while Asi Taulava had 11 and 8. Willie Miller had 10 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists. James Yap and Mick Pennisi each had 9 points, all on 3-pointers.

Coach Yeng Guiao did not play Japeth Aguilar, perhaps saving him for tonight’s game against Korea to determine the leader in Group A.

The scores:

Philippines 78 – Thoss 15, Taulava 11, Miller 10, Yap, 9, Pennisi 9, Baguio 8, Helterbrand 5, Santos 3, Norwood 3, Raymundo 3, Dillinger 2.

Japan 69 – Yamada 16, K. Takeuchi 14, Igarashi 13, S. Kashiwagi 12, J. Takeuchi 8, Ito 4, Amino 2, Okada 0, Takeda 0.

Quarters: 17-22, 35-41, 56-53, 78-69

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