The Philippines shook off a bad start to survive Qatar, 92-81, during their closed-door match in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
The hosts opened the game with three-straight layups, but the Qataris were able to counter with a pair of three-pointers and and-one opportunities that led them to take a 22-10 lead a little over halfway into the first quarter.
Qatar took their biggest lead of 17 at the 6:51 mark of the second quarter after a jumper by Mohd Yousuf Mohmmed. The Filipinos played slightly better to close the first half at 52-39.
The Filipinos came out with a much more spirited effort in the third quarter, taking back the lead at 3:17 after four-straight points from Japeth Aguilar. They outscored the Qataris 28-12 to take a 67-64 lead going into the final frame.
The home squad made a 19-5 run to open the final quarter, allowing them to take their biggest lead of the game at 86-69. They went on to hold off a final run by Qatar to secure the victory in the final stretch.
The Philippines continued to struggle from the three-point line, shooting a horrid 3-for-32 (9.4 percent) from long distance, one game after finishing with a 17.9 percent total in their loss against Iran. Meanwhile, Qatar shot a scorching 53 percent from deep in the first half before simmering down.
Japeth Aguilar led the Philippine squad with 16 points and nine rebounds, while shooting an efficient 87.5% from the field. Alex Cabagnot came off the bench to put in 16 markers of his own, while Beau Belga added 11 points and six boards.
Qatar’s Mohd Yousuf Mohmmed led all scorers with 26 points of 69.2% shooting, while Nasser Khalifa Al-Rayes and Tanguy Aban Ngombo added 17 points each in the loss.
Playing in a near-empty Araneta Coliseum in Manila as part of the sanctions stemming from the bench-clearing incident in their match against Australia during the last window of the qualifiers, Gilas Pilipinas were essentially in a must-win situation after falling in a close contest to the Haddadi-less Iran a few days ago.
With this victory, the Philippines improve to 5-3, holding on to the third spot in Group F behind Australia and Iran, and just ahead of Japan at 4-4. The top three countries from each group will qualify for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
The Philippine team take on their next assignment on November 30 when they open the fifth window of the Asian Qualifiers against Kazakhstan in Manila, Philippines.
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