Gilas Pilipinas overcame a sluggish start and stormed through the third quarter to dismantle the Republic of Iraq, 84-68, in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, Friday night at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Beirut, Lebanon.
The victory marks the Philippines’ second straight in the group phase, and they now sport a 2-0 card, sending them atop Group B and into the quarterfinals. The Iraqis, meanwhile, dropped to 1-1.
Terrence Romeo was the Filipinos’ high point man with 17 markers, but it was Christian Standhardinger who was the star of the show, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the third quarter alone. The Fil-German also had seven boards.
Holding a slim 32-31 lead at the half, the Nationals went on a Standhardinger-sparked blitz in the third canto through an overwhelming 24-4 scoring spree to erect an insurmountable 21-point lead, 56-35, with 2:24 left in the period.
The Iraqis still fought back in the payoff period as they trimmed the deficit to just 14, 82-68, but Calvin Abueva and Jayson Castro’s charities with 31 seconds to go were enough to secure the much-needed victory and the top seed.
Carl Cruz supplied 11 points off the bench on 3-of-3 shooting from the outside for the Philippines, who, despite shooting a measly 38 percent from the floor, still managed to punch in 12 three-pointers in the match.
Castro was held to just a point, but still fulfilled his role to run the one with six dimes.
Naturalized wing Kevin Galloway top-billed the Middle Eastern cagers with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Karrar Hamzah backed him up with 12 markers.
The Filipinos’ ball movement was on point, as they racked up 20 assists. Gilas also ran the floor better than the Iraqis with 12 fastbreak points compared to the latter’s four, and their bench stepped up once more, 46-29.
Gilas will look to end the group stages with a perfect slate as they take on the still-winless Qatar on Sunday, August 13, also at 9:00 PM.
Gilas Pilipinas (84) – Romeo 17, Standhardinger 16, Cruz 11, Pogoy 9, Norwood 8, Wright 8, Aguilar 5, Jalalon 4, Abueva 3, Almazan 2, William 1.
Iraq (68) – Galloway 23, Hamzah 12, Al-Khafaji 8, Ismael 6, Hamad 5, Hameed 5, Abdullah 3, Dhafer 2, Talib 2, Algburi 2, Aljuboori 0, Alazawi 0.
Quarterscores: 17-19, 32-31, 60-40, 84-68.