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Gilas faces hot-shooting Japan for QF berth

Gilas Pilipinas faces a daunting task of advancing to the quarterfinals as it battles the red-hot Japan on Tuesday, July 19 in the 2022 FIBA Asia Cup at Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Thirdy Ravena (left) and Kevin Quiambao (FIBA) 

The Filipinos had the chance to take a much easier route to the next round but the blowout loss to New Zealand last Sunday relegated the nationals to a tougher road with a meeting against the Japanese side led by NBA player Yuta Watanabe.

Gilas locks horns with the Akatsuki Five at 8 p.m. in the knockout qualifiers for the four remaining quarterfinals seats.

The Filipinos last missed a spot inside the Top 8 of the tournament when they finished ninth during the 2007 edition in Tokushima, Japan. Gilas’ best finish since then was during the 2013 and 2015 editions when it settled with silver medals in both occasions.

Reyes said it is now the perfect time for Gilas to have a short-term memory and quickly move on from the tough loss to the Tall Blacks.

“We talked about that briefly in the dugout, that we have to forget about this game because the next team we are playing plays a completely different type of ball game,” said Reyes in the aftermath of the team’s 75-92 loss at the hands of the Kiwis to finish at third seed in Group D with a 1-2 record

“We told our players to get their rest because we need a lot of energy and quickness to stay with Japan. We watched how they played. As I said, nothing left to be done but just be ready for the next one,” he added.

The Akatsuki Five has been on a tear in the tournament so far, leading in scoring with 97.7 points while shooting a whopping 17 triples per game. Watanabe, who last played with the Toronto Raptors in the NBA, was at the forefront of the attack with 15.3 points per game through the group stage along with Yutaro Suda (15.0 ppg) and Keisei Tominaga (14.3 ppg).

Gilas, on the other hand, has Carl Tamayo as the team’s best scorer with 12.7 points per game with Ray Parks Jr.(12.3ppg) and Thirdy Ravena (11.3 ppg) not far behind.

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