The Philippines are now in desperation mode after dropping a close one against Kazakhstan, 92-88, during the first leg of their fifth window homestand of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Trailing by five with only 34 seconds left in the game, the Philippines were thrown a lifebuoy in the form of Marcio Lassiter’s dagger three to bring them to within one possession, but Kazakhstan were able to draw the eventual game-winning open layup for forward Anton Bykov.

The hosts had shot an impressive 67 percent from the three-point line but struggled from close-range, only making below a third of those attempts. Meanwhile, their Kazakh counterparts had a field day from all over the floor, including trumping the Philippines with a 71 percentage from deep.

Stanley Pringle led the Philippine side with 29 points and four assists, while June Mar Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter added 14 and 13 markers each in the loss. No other Filipino finished in double-figures.

Kazakh big man Alexandr Zhigulin led all scorers with 30 points off an efficient 63 percent shooting from the field, while Anton Bykov added 20 points and nine rebounds.

The Filipinos were visible dejected after the game, knowing they had now fallen into essentially a must-win situation.

With this heartbreaking defeat at home, the Philippines fall to 5-4, holding on to a tie at the third spot with Japan and behind Group F leaders Australia (8-1) and Iran (6-3). Only the top three countries from each group and the best fourth seed team from either bracket will qualify for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

The Philippine team takes on their final assignment at home on December 3 when they close the fifth window of the Asian Qualifiers against Iran at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.

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