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Undermanned Gilas misfires at endgame, yields to Japan

The Philippines’ Kelly Williams slashes through the defense of Japan’s Takumi Ishisaki (15) and Joji Takeuchi during their Asian Games elims showdown at the Huangpu gym Friday. JOEY MENDOZA

MANILA, Philippines –  Jayvee Casio missed a court-to-court drive in the last five seconds and Smart Gilas Team Pilipinas lost a gripping battle with Japan, 58-60, in the 16th Asian Games basketball competition at the Huangpu Gymnasium Friday night.

Unable to hit crucial shots at the finish, the Nationals moved out of contention for top seeding in Group F but remained on track in their bid for a slot in the Final Eight

They are tipped to nail a second win in four games in the preliminary round as they take on the lowly Indian side at 9:30 p.m. tonight at the Yingdong Gym.

They can salvage third seeding in the group with victories over India tonight and Chinese-Taipei on Monday.

“We out-rebounded them but we didn’t use it to make fastbreak points. It was very hard because they were so active defensively,” said Smart Gilas Phl coach Rajko Toroman on their loss to the Japanese.

“Now we’re in a situation fighting for the No. 3 position. We may have Korea as opponent in the quarterfinals. Maybe, it’s better to play them there,” Toroman also said.

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Takumi Ishizaki put in a game-high 16 points, Kosuke Takeushi came through with 11 points and the same number of rebounds while guard Yuta Tabuse added nine points, four assists, four steals and three rebounds as Japan overcame the Philippines in a tightly-fought contest for its third win in a row.

Smart Gilas, coming off a 90-68 rout of Qatar, had a chance to send the game into overtime but Casio missed a running jumper at the buzzer.

Earlier, Mac Baracael misfired an open top-of-the-key three-point shot that could have given the Nationals the lead.

The Nationals struggled with a 38-percent shooting in the face of the Japanese resolute defense.

“We’re not much cohesive and we’re relying on defense to win games,” said Japan coach Thomas Robert Wisman.

“We played well defensively. We’re fighting and we’re doing everything. Our problem was our offense. We committed 19 errors, eight more than them, and that’s a lot. That killed us,” said Toroman.

“They’re the more experienced team. They have Tabuse who had played in the NBA (with the Phoenix Suns) and two guys (Takeuchi twins) who attended the NBA summer league. Still, I think we’re the better team. It’s a pity we’re down to 10 men,” added Toroman.

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