Gilas holds off Qatar, sweeps Group B

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 13 2017 10:49 PM | Updated as of Aug 13 2017 11:27 PM

Matthew Wright led Gilas Pilipinas with 25 points against Qatar. Photo from FIBA

(UPDATED) Already assured of a quarterfinals spot, Gilas Pilipinas made sure to end its group round campaign on a rousing note as it fended off Qatar, 80-74, in their final game in Group B on Sunday evening in Beirut, Lebanon.

Playing without Christian Standhardinger, who was resting due to a sore right shoulder and neck, Gilas Pilipinas saw its big man rotation dwindle further due to foul trouble and injuries.

But Matthew Wright came through with superb shot-making from beyond the arc, as he scored 25 points, making seven of his 12 three-pointers.

With the victory, the Philippines completed a three-game sweep of Group B, having previously beaten defending champion China and Iraq to assure itself of a seat in the quarterfinals.

Meanwhile, Qatar lost all three of their assignments in the group round, but put up a strong fight against the Filipinos, especially after falling behind by 20 points in the third period.

With Abdulrahman Saad well-covered by Gabe Norwood, it was diminutive point guard Mansour Elhadary who carried the scoring load for Qatar, and his reverse lay-up with 1:36 to go in the third period made it a 10-point game, 45-55.

A triple by Wright and a split at the line by Terrence Romeo made it a 12-point game, 59-47, heading into the final period, but Qatar simply refused to go away easily.

Back-to-back three-pointers by Yehia Abdelhaleem, plus a jump shot by Elhadary made it a five-point game, 68-73, with still 2:35 to go, prompting a timeout by Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes.

Fortunately for the Filipinos, Wright was there to douse Qatar's rally. After a bucket by Abdulrahman Al-Muftah again cut their lead to five, 75-70, Wright coolly knocked down a corner triple to push the lead back to eight points, 78-70, with just 1:50 to go.

Time soon ran out on Qatar's comeback attempt, and Romeo capped off the win with a lay-up off a dime from Japeth Aguilar.

Carl Bryan Cruz scored 13 points for the Philippines, a bulk of which came in the third quarter when they took a 49-29 advantage early. However, the Alaska forward also suffered a minor injury midway through the frame, though he would return to the contest.

His Alaska teammate, Calvin Abueva, was not so lucky. "The Beast" slid on a wet spot under the basket with two minutes to go in the second period, and had to be carried off the court by his teammates. It was reported that Abueva was okay to return to the game, but he was not subbed back in.

Romeo had 10 points but made only two of his 12 shots, cooling off slightly after explosive performances against China and Iraq. Meanwhile, Norwood contributed his usual brand of defense and leadership, tallying 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and two blocks.

Japeth Aguilar and Raymond Almazan combined for seven points and eight rebounds, as they were limited by foul trouble all throughout the contest.

Elhadary led Qatar with 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting, while Saad finished with 18 points. Qatar shot better from the field than the Philippines, 47.54% to 39.44%, but the Filipinos had 15 three-pointers in the game against only six for Qatar.

Gilas Pilipinas will now have two days to rest and prepare for their quarterfinals game on August 16, which will be against the winner of the Japan-South Korea game on Monday.

Box scores:

GILAS PILIPINAS 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.

Quarter scores: 25-16, 41-27, 59-47, 80-74.

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