Playing inside a bare SMART Araneta Coliseum, Gilas Pilipinas was able to buck a lethargic start and heat up late, trouncing an upset-hungry Qatar squad, 92-81, Monday evening.
With the win, Gilas goes up to 5-3 in Group F of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers – a full game ahead of fourth-running Japan, who beat Iran, 70-56, earlier in the day.
Just like the temperature inside the Big Dome, Gilas shot cold from the field in the first half, knocking down just nine of their 24 attempts.
The Qataris, on the other hand, torched the home side, as the trio of Mohd Mohammed, Tanguy Ngombo, and Suliman Abdi Khalid combined for 32 first-half points. Moreover, Qatar knocked down seven triples in the first 20 minutes of the contest compared to just one for the Philippines.
After a pep talk by Yeng Guiao during the break, a determined Gilas side came out of the dugout. The duo of Scottie Thompson and Beau Belga provided the spark for Gilas in a 13-2 run to cut Qatar’s lead down to a single possession.
The young Qataris then crumbled afterwards. An advantage foul called on Hassan Mohamed led to two free throws for Japeth Aguilar. In the next possession, the 6-foot-9 forward knocked down a jumper with 3:16 left in the third canto to give Gilas the lead for good.
It was all Gilas in the final frame, as Qatar continued its meltdown that saw Suliman Khalid being called for back-to-back technical fouls.
Gilas would lead by as much as 17 points, 86-79, as Aguilar and Stanley Pringle put on a show to close out the game. Qatar never fully threatened in the final frame, only cutting the lead to as low as nine points the rest of the way.
As the dust settled, Aguilar ended up with 16 points, eight rebounds, and a block. Alex Cabagnot added 16 markers as well, bouncing back from his 1-for-7 outing against Iran, while Beau Belga chipped in 11 points, six rebounds, and three blocks.
In his debut in the Qualifiers, Stanley Pringle had 13 points, six rebounds, and three assists. On the other hand, Thompson showed that he can perform if given the minutes, tallying six rebounds, three points, two assists, and a steal.
Qatar dropped to 2-6, dead last in Group F.
Mohd Mohammed paced Qatar with 26 points, while Ngombo finished with a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Gilas will have a two-game stand at home in the next window. They host Kazakstan first on November 30 before taking on Iran on December 3. Both games will be played at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Philippines 92 –– Aguilar 16, Cabagnot 16, Pringle 13, Belga 11, Lee 8, Wright 6, Lassiter 5, Sangalang 5, Erram 4, Thompson 3, Taulava 3, Norwood 2.
Qatar 81 — Mohammed MY 26, Al-Rayes 17, Ngombo 17, Khalid 10, Mohammed MH 4, Abdelbaset 3, Gueye 3, Abdelhaleem 1, Avdic 0, Lashin 0.
Quarterscores: 15-26, 39-52, 67-64, 92-81.