Gilas Pilipinas ended its two-game FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers fifth window stint on the road on a high note by beating Saudi Arabia, 76-63, at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah early Monday, November 14 (Philippine time).
The feat stretched the Filipinos’ winning streak to three in the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers. It also marked Gilas’ first sweep of a Fiba window.
Veteran shooter Roger Pogoy took charge in the third period before Dwight Ramos and CJ Perez took turns in the last quarter to help secure the win for the Philippines which has improved to a 5-3 win-loss card in Group E.
Pogoy’s back-to-back Pogoy treys mounted a 50-36 lead for Gilas but the Saudis fought their way back and cut the lead to just seven points, 48-55.
Yet, Perez’s three-pointer and layup restored order for the Filipinos to widen their lead anew, 60-48.
With only two minutes remaining, Saudi Arabia crawled back and sliced the Philippines’ edge to a single digit, 61-69, but Ramos countered and scored Gilas’ final four points for a 7-2 run.
Pogoy and Ramos canned 13 points apiece as the latter also issued four assists and grabbed three rebounds.
Perez, who had a slow start, finished with 10 points and four rebounds to pump life to Gilas in the fourth period after the Saudis refused to budge, challenging the Filipinos’ grit down the stretch.
Gilas Pilipinas Kai and Scottie
Kai Sotto and Scottie Thompson, who starred in Gilas’ win over Jordan (74-66) in Amman three days ago, also made their presence felt.
The seven-foot-two Sotto fired 11 points, nine rebounds, and five blocks while PBA MVP Thompson of Barangay Ginebra accounted for nine points, nine rebounds, and two steals.
Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes thanked the Filipino fans who trooped to the venue to boost the Nationals’ morale.
“They did not allow us to lose,” Reyes said. “We knew the high quality of this team and so we had mentally prepared ourselves to struggle, especially coming from a tough game in Jordan and a tough trip.”
He attributed the win to their patience through their early struggles.
Head coach Chot Reyes
GILAS Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes continued to rave about the team’s vastly improved defense after completing a sweep of its games in the fifth window of the 2023 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers on the road.
After the Philippines repeated over Saudi Arabia, 76-63, on Monday (Manila time) in Jeddah, the outspoken mentor zeroed in on the field goal story as the visiting Gilas made life hard for the hosts in this physical affair.
“Obviously we’re very happy with the result. For the game, we really focused on our defense and we’re able to stop their players,” he said. “I think the result that we’re able to hold them below 70 points speaks well of our ability to defend.”
He said they knew it was going to be a tough game so they mentally prepared themselves for the struggle.
Bobby Ray Parks Jr. added eight points and six boards as the Philippines repeated its mastery over Saudi Arabia whom they routed by 38 points at home in August when they first clashed in the fourth window.
Mathwa Almarwani made 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Saudi Arabia, which kept its fifth spot in the Group E standings with a 2-6 mark.
The box score:
PHILIPPINES 76 — Ramos 13, Pogoy 13, Sotto 11, Perez 10, Thompson 9, Parks 8, Aguilar 6, Kouame 5, Malonzo 1, Oftana 0, Erram 0, Quiambao 0.
SAUDI ARABIA 63 — Ma. Almarwani 19, Abdel Gabar 16, Mo. Almarwani 8, Kadi 6, Aljohar 5, Ashoor 4, Shubayli 2, Mohammed 2, Belal 1, Saleh 0, Almuwallad 0, Albargawi 0.
Quarters: 16-16, 31-25, 55-45, 76-63.