Wright leads assault as Gilas Pilipinas sweeps group preliminaries, repels Qatar

August 13, 2017

Gilas Pilipinas buckled down to work in a game it could afford to lose, and completed a three-game sweep in FIBA Asia Cup group elims with an 80-74 win over Qatar at the Noudhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Beirut Sunday night.

With Christian Standhardinger joining June Mar Fajardo in the sideline to rest a sore shoulder, the Filipinos played small ball and blew the Qataris away with a fiery shooting from afar.

Matthew Wright, Carl Bryan Cruz, Gabe Norwood, Jason Castro and RR Pogoy strung up 15 three-pointers as the Nationals sustained their blazing romp following earlier wins over China and Iraq.

As the Pool B top notcher, Team Phl automatically advanced to the Final Eight, facing either Korea or Japan which square off in a classification-round knockout Monday.

So it will either be a rematch of the Phl-Japan semifinal in 2015 or the Phl-Korea semi in 2013.

Assured of a quarters berth even before their showdown with the Qataris, the Nationals still refused to slow down and instead performed a worthy game cheered on by a huge throng of Filipino workers on weekend off.

Wright took his turn to lead the scoring parade for Gilas with 25 points laced by an amazing 7-of-12 three-point shooting.

Cruz continued to prove that he belongs in this Gilas group, starring in their second-quarter breakaway and going on to finish with 13 markers.

Terrence Romeo, the biggest star in their games against China and Iraq, chipped in 10 as did Norwood.

Norwood also collected seven rebounds and five assists, and highlighted his solid-all-around game with a thunderous jam that brought the crowd up on their feet early in the fourth.

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The Nationals dished out another dominant showing that spoke well of what they can do in the knockout stage.

New Zealand and Australia also booked an outright Final Eight passage as the top seeds in Group C and Group D, respectively. The fourth outright quarters spot was to be disputed by Iran and Jordan late Sunday night. Both carried 2-0 marks going to their Group A showdown.

Gilas thundered to a 41-27 lead at the half largely behind a methodical game marked by an impressive 9-of-23 three-point shooting.

Wright and Cruz combined for five treys and a total of 21 markers.
Cruz came off the bench and nearly outscored the entire Qatari team, 10-11, in the second quarter.

The scores:
Philippines 80 – Wright 25, Cruz 13, Romeo 10, Norwood 10, Castro 6, Pogoy 5, Almazan 4, Aguilar 3, Jalalon 2, Abueva 2.
Qatar 74 – Elhadary 23, Saad 18, Erfan 9, Abdelhaleem 8, Mohamed 6, Al-Muftah 6, Mohmmed 4, Al-Darwish 0.Abdelkawy 0, Al-Rayes 0.
Quarterscores: 25-16, 41-27, 59-47, 80-74