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Gilas completes sweep of Group B

Matthew Wright | FIBA.com

Matthew Wright | FIBA.com photo

by Jonas Terrado

PBA rookies Matthew Wright and Carl Bryan Cruz delivered big numbers to help Gilas Pilipinas complete a sweep of Group B with an 80-74 victory over Qatar Sunday night in the FIBA Asia Cup at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Beirut, Lebanon.

Wright erupted for seven three-pointers to finish with 25 points while Cruz made 10 of his 13 points during the first half which saw Gilas take control of the contest and eventually produce its third straight win in the continental tournament.

Gilas, however, had to deal with a late scare when Qatar, down by as much as 19, pulled within 73-68 on a long jumper by Mansour Elhadary with 2:34 left, prompting coach Chot Reyes to reorganize his team.

It didn’t take long for Gilas to respond as Terrence Romeo scored a stepback jumper and Wright drained his final triple of the evening to make it 78-70 with 1:49 left, much to the delight of a huge Filipino crowd that turned the venue into a Little Big Dome.

Gilas entered the game already assured of a quarterfinals berth following stirring wins over China and Iraq, but needed another impressive showing before entering the crucial stage of the 12-day competition.

Still to be determined is Gilas’ opponent in the quarters as Japan and South Korea meet Monday night.

Japan finished second in Group D behind Australia while Korea was forced to settle for third in Group C despite tying New Zealand and host Lebanon for the best record in the said bracket because of an inferior quotient.

Romeo and Gabe Norwood led Gilas with 10 points apiece.

The victory came after busy developments in the Lebanese capital.

June Mar Fajardo, dealing with a strained right calf, raised speculations about a possible appearance in the tournament when he participated in Saturday’s practice.

Fil-German Christian Standhardinger sat out last night’s game because of nagging pain in his neck and shoulder while Calvin Abueva was carried back to the bench in the second quarter by teammates after hurting his left foot during a slip.

Gilas can only hope they could be healthy just in time for the big quarters showdown.

PHILIPPINES 80 – Wright 25, Cruz 13, Norwood 10, Romeo 10, Castro 6, Pogoy 5, Almazan 4, Aguilar 3, Abueva 2, Jalalon 2.

QATAR 74 – Elhadary 23, Saad 18, Erfan 9, Abdelhaleem 8, Mohamed 6, Al-Muftah 6, Mohmmed 4, Al-Darwish 0, Al-Rayes 0, Abdelkawy 0.

Quarters: 25-16; 41-27; 59-47; 80-74.