Gilas Pilipinas Youth team fell short of its comeback bid as Japan came away with a 73-67 victory to deny the Filipinos an outright quarterfinals berth in the 2022 FIBA U16 Asian Championship at the Al-Gharafa Sports Club Multi-Purpose Hall in Doha Qatar on Tuesday, June 14.

Caelum Harris’ bounce back game of 18 points and six rebounds goes for naught as Gilas Pilipinas falls to Japan, 73-67. (FIBA photo)

Less than 24 hours since their rousing 82-45 win against Kuwait, the Filipinos faced a much bigger and a lot quicker opposition as Japan, led by sweet-shooting big man Yuto Kawashima, exploded for 26 points – 22 of which he unloaded in the first half to bury Gilas to a double-digit deficit.

The Filipinos, however, refused to go down without a fight as they embarked to a furious rally late in the final frame to threaten the Japanese side inside the final minute of the game.

Down by 12, 69-57, with a little over three minutes left, the Filipinos unleashed a blistering 10-2 blast anchored by the trio of Caelum Harris, Jared Bahay and Zain Mahmood to cut the lead down to just four, 71-67, with 33 seconds left in the clock.

Gilas then pulled off a stop on the other end but came out empty in its final possession as Japan completed the great escape.

Harris, who struggled offensively in his first game, had a bounce-back performance of 18 points and six rebounds while Bahay continued to man the point well for Gilas with 12 markers, six boards, three assists and three steals.

Those efforts, however, all went down the drain as Gilas now will need to play Kazakhstan in the qualifying phase for a quarterfinals spot on Thursday, June 16.

Kawashima, on the other hand, got ample support with Leon Watanabe and Eijiro Ogawa finishing with 16 and 12 points respectively for the Japanese team which used a back-breaking 11-3 finishing kick at the end of the first half to build a 35-24 cushion at the break.

Source: Manila Bulletin (