Naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche played impressively down the stretch to send Gilas Pilipinas national team to an exciting 73-66 win over Japan in the second round of 28th FIBA Asia Championship Olympic Qualifying tourney on Sunday at the Changsha Social Work College’s gymnasium in Changsha, China.
Blatche, an ex-National Basketball Association power forward who played for Washington and Brooklyn, scored 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting in the field and collected 10 rebounds plus one block and an assist in 22 minutes of play.
Blatche’s ankle was also hurt during the game.
Forward Ranidel De Ocampo scored 13 points with three triples in addition to his five rebounds, while Terrence Romeo and Jayson Castro added 12 points each to give the Philippines its first win in the second round and third overall after four games.
Forward Calvin Abueva finished with 10 points also for Gilas Pilipinas.
Japan opened the fourth quarter with a strong 11-4 run to knot the game at 64-all. But De Ocampo scored a crucial triple with 2:15 left in the game and Gilas Pilipinas regained the advantage 67-64.
Abueva sank two free throws to stretch the Philippines’ lead to 69-64 with 1:35 remaining. The Japanese trimmed down the gap to 66-69 before Blatche hit a jumper to give the Filipinos another five-point lead.
Castro sealed the win with two free throws in the dying seconds.
Philippines will battle powerhouse Iran today at 11:45am for its second game in the second round.