The Ateneo-Philippines survived a late scare from Japan to come away with an 80-74 victory and snap its two-game slide in the 40th William Jones Cup Wednesday at the Xinzhuang Gymnasium in Taiwan.
The Blue Eagles squandered a 14-point cushion but they still managed to escape with a hard-earned win that improved their record to 2-2.
Angelo Kouame topped with a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds, while Thirdy Ravena added 14 points and nine boards.
After trailing for majority of the match, the Japanese rallied back by lighting it up from downtown, snatching the lead 63-62 early in the fourth. The Blue Eagles restored order by going on an 8-0 blitz capped by a putback from Kouame.
The Japanese continued their aggressiveness to inch within a point before Ateneo launched another run to build a six-point cushion, 76-70, with 38.47 seconds left to play.
Takuma Sato made it a one-possession ballgame after nailing a crucial three-pointer. The Japanese had another opportunity to inch closer when Adrian Wong was whistled for an inbound violation but they failed to capitalize on it.
All hope was lost for Japan when Sato was called for a flagrant foul after a hit on Wong's face. With 14 ticks on the clock, Wong sealed the deal with four charities.
The Blue Eagles clamped down on defense, forcing Japan to commit 22 turnovers and recording 16 steals in the contest. Gian Mamuyac snatched the leather four times on top of his nine points.
After a horrible start in their previous loss to Canada, the Blue Eagles made sure to jump the gun on the Japanese. They widened the gap to a dozen, 33-21, late in the second frame. But Japan closed the half strong by earning multiple transition buckets in the final two minutes, cutting the Philippines' edge to six at the break.
Ateneo will next see action against Indonesia on Thursday at 1 p.m.
Philippines 80 - Kouame 15, Ravena 14, Wong 11, Nieto Ma 10, Mamuyac 9, Mendoza 8, Nieto Mi 5, Verano 4, Black 2, Go 2, Maagdenberg 0, White 0.
Japan 74 - Sato 12, Takahashi 11, Imamura 10, Hashimoto 9, Tamaki 8, Namizato 6, Hiraiwa 5, Toews 5, Schafer 5, Nakanishi 3, Sugiura 0, Inoue 0.
Quarterscores: 21-13, 37-31, 60-55, 80-74