Gilas Pilipinas and Japan will look to bounce back from their respective defeats in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers. Philippines will host Japan on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Japan will look to keep their 2019 FIBA World Cup hopes alive, as they look to finally barge into the winning column in the qualifiers. The Japanese are coming off a deflating 70-69 loss to Chinese Taipei on Thursday in Yokohama, which was their third defeat in as many games in the qualifiers.
Japan also lost to the Philippines, 77-71, in their 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers debut in November. It was followed by a humiliating 82-58 defeat to the unbeaten Australia Boomers in Adelaide.
Makoto Hiejima will look to lead Japan to their first win in the qualifiers. In their first three games, the 27-year-old guard averaged 17.0 points on top of 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Naturalized forward Ira Brown was also a bright spot for Japan in their first three assignments, as he posted 10.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
On the other hand, Gilas Pilipinas looked poise to hand Australia their toughest challenge in the qualifiers, but they collapsed in the second half. The Philippines took an 84-68 beating, which was their first loss in three outings. Gilas Pilipinas are still in second place in Group B, and will look to solidify their chances of advancing to the next round.
Philippines will get a major boost with the return of starting point guard Jayson Castro, JC Ansis of ESPN Philippines reported. The Filipino superstar missed the game against Australia due to a sprained ankle. In their first two games, Castro led the Philippines in scoring with 20 points per game on top of 5.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists.
Naturalized center Andray Blatche will also try to bounce back from another sub-par performance. The former NBA player finished with just eight points and seven rebounds in 26 minutes against the Boomers.
According to Carlo Pamintuan of ESPN Philippines, Blatche admitted that he was slowed down by fatigue during the second half of the match. The 31-year-old said that Australia did a very good job in keeping him guessing for the entire game with different types of defenders guarding him.
“It was smart of them to put fresh guys on me,” said Blatche, who is averaging 9.0 points, 11.0 rebounds in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. “They put their big heavy guys on me and then they put their smaller quicker guards on me. That was very smart because it made me very fatigued.”
The Gilas Pilipinas-Japan match will start at 6:30 a.m. ET. Fans can go to the official Live Basketball TV website for the live stream and replays of all 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifying games.