Banking on its torrid three-point shooting, Gilas Pilipinas snared the top seed in Group B with an 80-74 victory over Qatar Sunday in the 2017 Fiba Asia Cup at Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Beirut, Lebanon.
Matthew Wright compensated for the Filipinos’ problems up front and caught fire to help them sweep Group B of the continental tilt, which also included China and Iraq.
Already missing the services of June Mar Fajardo (strained calf) and Christian Standhardinger (stiff neck and shoulder), the Philippines also had to deal with Raymond Almazan’s foul woes and Calvin Abueva’s sprained ankle after he slipped in the paint at the 2:01 mark of the second quarter.
But the Phoenix rookie came to the rescue as he drilled seven triples to finish with 25 points for the Philippines, which awaits the winner of the playoff between Japan and Korea for its next match up. He also had four assists.
The quarterfinals are slated on Wednesday.
Wright wasn’t the only one who got going from downtown as the team shot 15-of-42 from three.
Carl Bryan Cruz added 13 markers on a 3-of-9 shooting from three, while Gabe Norwood shot 2-of-4 from beyond the arc to wound up with 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and two blocks.
Norwood’s three-pointer at the 7:49 mark of the third quarter gave the Philippines a 20-point edge, 49-29, but Qatar leaned on Mansour Elhadary and Abdulrahman Saad to slice the lead down to as low as five, 75-70, with 2:06 to play.
However, Wright was there to restore order as he banged a corner three, followed by the dagger floater from Terrence Romeo to seal the deal for Gilas.
Romeo struggled to get his offense in the game, but made a living from the charity stripe, canning six of his seven freebies to…