GILAS Pilipinas crashed out of the 2022 Fiba Asia Cup after bowing to Japan, 102-81, on Tuesday at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta.
Yuta Watanabe anchored the Akatsuki Five’s early assault with his 15 points, nine rebounds, and three assists as he ignited his side’s 23-10 start that set the tone for their first victory over a Philippine team in 10 years.
Not even his exit from the game on account of injury, with seven minutes left in the third quarter, could slow down Japan’s rampage as it opened a 19-point lead, 58-39, which it preserved behind a combination of timely threes, going 13-of-35 from beyond the arc, and unnecessary Gilas fouls that delivered 25 free throws with Japan making 23.
Yuki Togashi top scored with 18 points and six assists, while naturalized center Luke Evans tallied 17 points and seven boards as Japan arranged a date against Group A top seed Australia in the Final Eight.
Yudai Nishida also poured in 15 points, as Yutaro Suda drained four treys for his 14 points.
Japan leads the Asia Cup in average points (97.7), assists (24.7), and steals (12.3).
But arguably the strongest suit of the Akatsuki Five is their three-point shooting as they average 16.7 triples, which also ranks No. 1 in the tournament.
Familiarity will be key for the Filipinos in stifling the Japanese, with several of their players seeing action in the Japan B. League.
Ray Parks is teammates with Tenketsu Harimoto and Yutaroh Suda for the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins, while Kiefer Ravena (Shiga Lakestars) and Thirdy Ravena (San-En NeoPhoenix) have played against the rest of the Japanese squad.
The three are also Gilas Pilipinas’ top performers.
Parks averages 12.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.3 steals, Thirdy norms 11.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.7 steals, while Kiefer churns out 8.3 points, 3 assists, and 2.7 rebounds.
It was the first time in 15 years that the Philippines failed to make it to the quarterfinals of the continental showcase as it ended up at ninth place, matching the country’s ranking in the 2007 tournament in Tokushima, Japan where an all-PBA team led by Asi Taulava, Jimmy Alapag, and Jayjay Helterbrand was likewise knocked off in the group stages.
It was also the first time since the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou where the Philippines fell to Japan, which relied on Kosuke Takeuchi, Yuta Tabuse, and Takumi Ishizaki to put away a 60-58 thriller against Smart Gilas.
Bobby Ray Parks, who faced off against a few of his Japan B.League peers, led Gilas with 16 points and three assists, while fellow Japan import Kiefer Ravena had 15 points.
Carl Tamayo had 10 points before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.
Japan 102 – Togashi 18, Evans 17, Nishida 15, Watanabe 15, Suda 14, Harimoto 9, Yoshii 7, Sato 5, Inoue 2, Tominaga 0, Kawamura 0, Toews 0.
Philippines 81 – Parks 16, K. Ravena 15, Tamayo 10, Belangel 9, Erram 7, Quiambao 6, Abarrientos 5, Navarro 4, Lopez 3, T. Ravena 2, Chiu 2, Abando 2.
Quarters: 32-16, 50-34, 77-63, 102-81.