The Philippine national men’s basketball team dispatched Qatar, 80-74, to sweep the group stages of the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup on Sunday at Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Beirut, Lebanon.
Sharpshooter Matthew Wright fired 25 points while shooting seven out of 12 triples for Gilas Pilipinas (3-0) which booked an outright ticket to the quarterfinals where the Filipinos will face either Korea or Japan.
The knockout stages will begin on Wednesday.
Gilas Pilipinas got off to a hot start behind Wright who scored 11 points spiked by three triples. The Filipinos zoomed to a 23-11 lead in the opening frame.
Carl Bryan Cruz then stepped up, scoring the team’s first seven points in the second frame to help Gilas Pilipinas grab a 41-27 halftime lead.
Already thin in the frontline with the absence of the injured Christian Standhardinger, Gilas Pilipinas suffered another blow as Calvin Abueva was hurt after slipping on a wet spot late in the second quarter. He never returned to the game.
Despite that, Gilas Pilipinas still remained in control, with a Gabe Norwood triple pushing their lead to 20 points, 49-29, in the third quarter.
But winless Qatar didn’t go away easily. The squad scored eight unanswered points to trim the Filipinos’ deficit to just 10, 51-41.
Qatar then closed the gap to just five points, 75-70, with just 2:08 left in the game. But Wright fired a booming triple, then Terrence Romeo scored a layup to seal the win for the Filipinos.
Cruz chipped in 13 points for Gilas Pilipinas as Norwood and Romeo added 10 apiece.