With their backs against the wall, Gilas Pilipinas produced their most impressive game so far in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Behind the returning Andray Blatche, the Philippine Men’s National Basketball Team blew Qatar out of the Al-Gharafa Sports Club Multi-Purpose Hall with an 84-46 rout, early Friday morning (Manila time).
Blatche, who made his return to Gilas after a three-game suspension, finished with 17 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, two blocks, and two steals.
With the win, Gilas goes up to 6-5 in Group F. The Nationals locked up the fourth spot after Kazakhstan was romped by Australia in Astana, 60-81.
The Philippines can still go up to as high as the third seed in Group F if it defeats Kazakhstan on February 24 and Iran falls to Australia on the same day in Tehran.
Japan, which owns a 7-4 slate, will most likely be seeded second after trouncing Iran, 97-89. The Akatsuki Five’s final assignment is against also-ran Qatar.
Gilas can still go down to as low as fourth if it loses anew to the Kazakhs since Iran, even if it loses to Australia, holds the tiebreaker advantage. Iran has a 2-0 record against the Philippines from the first round.
In this case, Gilas’ World Cup ticket will depend on the Group E results.
Still, Blatche and Paul Lee made sure that Gilas can control what it can control.
Behind the duo, Gilas went on a surge during the third canto, going on a 20-2 run to turn a 10-point cushion into a 28-point lead. As the dust settled, Gilas scored 31 points in the frame – the most the Philippines has scored in a quarter in the tournament so far.
Lee tallied 13 points and seven boards.
Gilas continued to ride the momentum in the final frame as Japeth Aguilar, Jayson Castro, Marcio Lassiter, and JP Erram joined the party. Gilas would lead by as much as 45 points in the contest, 82-37, after an Erram triple with 2:04 left.
Lassiter had 14 points in the game built on four triples, while Castro added 11 points and four dimes. Aguilar chipped in 10 points, five rebounds, and two swats, plus a jam to boot.
During the tail-end of the contest, Yeng Guiao was ejected after being called for two technical fouls in a span of 15 seconds. The fiery mentor was first disgusted with a foul called on Thirdy Ravena after what seemed like a clean block on Nasser Khalifa Al-Rayes. In the next play, Ravena was hit in the face after an alley-oop attempt but no call was made.
Guiao left to the cheers of the OFWs that dominated the venue in Doha.
Erfan Ali Saeed was the sole double-digit scorer of Qatar with 10 points.
June Mar Fajardo played limited minutes in the game, as he was suffering from the flu.
Philippines (84) – Blatche 17, Lassiter 14, Dalistan 13, William 11, Aguilar 10, Barroca 7, Erram 6, Rosario 4, Norwood 2, Ravena 0, Thompson 0, Fajardo 0.
Qatar (46) – Saeed 10, Elhadary 7, A Fouda 6, Khalid 5, Gueye 5, Al-Rayes 3, Muslic 3, Mujkic 2, Mohmmed 2, Abdelhaleem 2, Avdic 1, Al-Darwish 0.
Quarterscores: 15-11, 31-21, 62-30, 84-46.