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Gilas Pilipinas buckles down to beat Saudi Arabia


Gilas Pilipinas vs Saudi Arabia Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers

Gilas Pilipinas celebrates after beating Saudi Arabia in the fifth window of the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers. Photo by Fiba

MANILA, Philippines—Roughened up early, Gilas Pilipinas cranked things up in the middle quarters and then kept it together the rest of the way for a 76-63 victory over host Saudi Arabia in the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers in Jeddah.

Veteran marksman Roger Pogoy and cornerstone Dwight Ramos had 13 points each to lead the charge at King Abdullah Sports City, ultimately helping the Philippines to a 5-3 record for its first sweep of a window in the showcase being used to prepare for the global meet set here on August next year.

“I thought they came hard, came with a very good game plan and we expected it,” national coach Chot Reyes said in the post-game presser.

“We knew the high quality of this team so we mentally prepared ourselves to struggle, especially after coming from a tough game in Jordan. Luckily we stayed patient through our early struggles,” he went on.

Kai Sotto and CJ Perez came up big once again. Sotto turned in 11 points, nine rebounds, and five blocks, while Perez had 10 and four.
A 12-0 run bridging the middle quarters allowed Gilas to take control, padding leads as big as 16 points.

Saudi Arabia, however, proved to be pesky at home. Behind the heroics of Mathna Almarwani and Khalid Abdel Gabar, the hosts pulled within 61-69 with 2:08.

The Nationals, however, kept it together as the game wound down, dooming the Saudis to a 2-6 record while pocketing another victory even without Filipino-American ace Jordan Clarkson, who is neck-deep in backstopping the Utah Jazz in the young NBA season.

“In the first half, we were too excited. We had a lot of turnovers. Good thing, we got to recover in the second half and pull it off,” said Thompson, who finished with nine points and nine rebounds.

“I think we got a lot of energy from the crowd. They really gave us a huge boost and did not allow us to lose, until we hit our stride, and hit our shots in the third quarter. And we were able to use our defense essentially to pull off the victory,” said Reyes.

The Scores:

PHILIPPINES 76 — Ramos 13, Pogoy 13, Sotto 11, Perez 10, Thompson 9, Parks 8, Aguilar 6, Kouame 5, Malonzo 1, Oftana 0, Erram 0, Quiambao 0.

SAUDI ARABIA 63 — Ma. Almarwani 19, Abdel Gabar 16, Mo. Almarwani 8, Kadi 6, Aljohar 5, Ashoor 4, Shubayli 2, Mohammed 2, Belal 1, Saleh 0, Almuwallad 0, Albargawi 0.

Quarters: 16-16, 31-25, 55-45, 76-63.

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