FIBA: Gilas Pilipinas makes World Cup with strong win and help from South Korea

Paul Lintag on Feb 25, 2019 09:30 AM
Gilas makes World Cup with strong win and help from Korea
Needing to win to have a shot at making the World Championships, Blatche was a man on a mission, scoring a game-high 41 points, 23 in the first half. (FIBA)

The Philippines is going to the FIBA World Cup for a second straight time.

Andray Blatche carried Gilas Pilipinas Sunday in Astana, picking up a very crucial 93-75 win over Kazakhstan in the 2019 Asian Qualifiers.

Needing to win to have a shot at making the World Championships, Blatche was a man on a mission, scoring a game-high 41 points, 23 in the first half.

But even before the win against Kazakhstan, Gilas got a solid from longtime nemesis South Korea in Beirut.

The Koreans overcame a strong challenge against Lebanon, taking an 84-72 victory in Group E. That allowed the Philippines to make the World Cup outright provided the national team beat Kazakhtan. Gilas was holding an 88-73 lead with less than three minutes left around the time South Korea wrapped up its win.

In the most simple of scenarios before Sunday's games, Gilas was going to advance with a win and a loss from either one of Lebanon and Jordan. A triple-tie among the three countries would have eliminated the Philippines.

Gilas Pilipinas got its win over the Kazakhs and got help from an unlikely source in the Koreans. Jordan also ended up beating New Zealand at home, completing the Asian representatives to the Worlds.



As if his all-around performance against Qatar wasn't enough for a Gilas Pilipinas re-introduction, Andray Blatche was an absolute beast for the Philippines in its rematch against the Kazakhs.

With not much offense to start, Blatche carried the national team with five booming triples right in the opening period. He scored 23 in the first half as the Philippines struggled to put away the home team, 45-40.

Blatche's barrage didn't stop in the second half, taking his game inside to punish the Kazakhstan defense. Andray finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds. three assists, four steals, and two blocks. He did all of that while having four fouls even before the third quarter ended.

"It was a very emotional game for us, we knew what was at stake," Blatche said

"I feel like we competed from the jump. We had some minor speed bumps but we're happy and thankful for the win," he added.



With Blatche taking time off to deal with his foul trouble, Gilas Pilipinas turnd to its backcourt leader in Jayson Castro for some much-needed lift.

Despite being uncharacteristically rough in the first half, the Blur turned it around in the third, scoring eight straigh points, first from back-to-back triples, to give the Philippines a 15-point lead, 70-55. Gilas never looked back.

Castro finished with 15 points just behind Andray on a perfect 4/4 clip from beyond the arc. June Mar Fajardo also played some quality minutes below Blatche, scoring nine points. Noticeably healthier after dealing with sickness that limited him against Qatar, the reigning five-time PBA Most Valuable Player added nine points and seven rebounds for the Philippines.

For Kazakhstan, naturalized guard Anthony Clemmons led the way with 27 points. Alexndr Zhigulin, who burned Gilas for 30 points in Manila, was limited to only eight points Sunday.



After Gilas Pilipinas started to break away in the third period, Kazakhstan never really made things close in the fourth. As the national team started to put the finishing touches in the win, the attention turned to Group E's bracket and whether or not the Philippines would get the help that it needed.

And out of all teams, it was South Korea that came through. The Koreans, led by former Star import Ricardo Ratliffe, pulled away from Lebanon in their game's last 10 minutes to give Gilas Pilipinas a huge solid.

Gilas Pilipinas finished with a 7-5 record in Group F, which was good for 4th place behind Australia (10-2), Japan (8-4), and Iran (8-4). The Philippines got the go-signal as it finished with a better record than Lebanon (6-6) in the other group.

The 2019 World Cup in China later this year is the second straight time the country has qualified to the World Championships. Gilas Pilipinas also advanced to the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain by beating South Korea in the semifinals of the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships.




The scores:

Philippines 93 – Blatche 41, Castro 15, Fajardo 9, Lassiter 8, Lee 8, Rosario 4, Aguilar 4, Pogoy 2, Barroca 2, Ravena 0, Erram 0, Norwood 0.

Kazakhstan 75 – Clemmons 27, Gavrilov 12, Yergali 11, Zhigulin 8, Murzagaliyev 8, Maidekin 4, Bazhin 3, Bykov 2, Aitkali 0, Kuanov 0.

Quarters: 22-21; 45-40; 71-60; 93-75.



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