Gilas Pilipinas escapes Qatar to sweep Group B
Matthew Wright buried seven triples as Gilas Pilipinas swept Group B after a scrappy affair against Qatar. (FIBA)
It wasn't the most flawless outing for the Philippines in the 2017 FIBA-Asia Cup but Gilas just had too much firepower for Qatar to handle.
Practically playing a no-bearing game, Gilas Pilipinas managed to escape a tough Qatar crew, 80-74, Sunday at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Beirut, Lebanon.
Gilas' close win over the Qataris allowed the Filipinos to sweep Group B with a clean 3-0 mark. The Philippines has advanced to the quarterfinals outright and will next play on Wednesday (Thursday morning, PHL time), giving the team an extra two days of rest.
The nationals will now wait for the winner of Japan and South Korea in the playoffs. The East Asian rivals will meet Monday in a knockout game.
Still without June Mar Fajardo, Gilas Pilipinas entered the Qatar game minus Christian Standhardinger who dealt with a bad case of stiff neck.
The Philippines also lost Calvin Abueva to an apparent left foot injury late in the first half. He didn't return to the game.
With health woes to three of its most reliable interior players, Gilas Pilipinas turned to its outside gunners to keep Qatar at bay.
Fil-Canadian Matthew Wright exploded from deep, burying seven triples on his way to a game-high 25 points. Wright also dished out four asssists in over 32 minutes of play.
Carl Bryan Cruz was likewise reliable from the outside, making three treys of his own to finish with 13 points. Veteran forward Gabe Norwood was an all-around beast with 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and two blocks.
Gilas Pilipinas appeared to have the game in total control after opening up a 20-point lead in the third quarter, displaying the same effort from the Iraq game.
However, Qatar would simply not go away, even cutting the deficit down to five points late in the fourth before the Philippines managed to hold on.
Mansour Elhadary was the top performer for Qatar after he collected 23 points, three rebounds, six assists, and three steals.
PHILIPPINES 80 - Wright 25, Cruz 13, Norwood 10, Romeo 10, Castro William 6, Pogoy 5, Almazan 4, Aguilar 3, Abueva 2, Jalalon 2.
QATAR 74 - Elhadary 23, Saad 18, Erfan 9, Abdelhaleem 8, Al-Muftah 6, Mohamed 6, Mohmmed 4, Abdelkawy 0, Al-Darwish 0, Al-Rayes 0.
Quarters: 25-16, 41-27, 59-47, 80-74.
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