(Nouhad Nawfal Sports
9 p.m. – Philippines vs Qatar
Gilas Pilipinas is not expected to take its foot off the pedal despite a guaranteed spot in the quarterfinals as it goes for a sweep of Group B against Qatar today in the FIBA Asia Cup at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Beirut, Lebanon.
Following two stirring victories over China and Iraq, Gilas will get some sort of a breather against the winless Qataris in the 9 p.m. match before taking a lengthier break for the quarterfinals of the continental tournament.
But knowing coach Chot Reyes and the rest of Gilas, they would rather gain as much momentum as they can before the knockout stage and assert their new-found status as one of the top contenders in the Lebanese capital.
Terrence Romeo and Christian Stanhardinger are once again expected to carry the fight for Gilas. The GlobalPort star and the Fil-German debutant have been impressive following two games, mostly responsible for the big runs that catapulted the Filipinos to victory.
Against Iraq, Romeo and Stanhardinger led a spirited third quarter charge as Gilas overcame a sluggish first half to produce an 84-68 victory over Iraq Friday night.
Romeo continued his fine showing by dropping 17 points while Standhardinger is showing that Gilas is not missing naturalized player Andray Blatche and injured center June Mar Fajardo with 16 points and seven rebounds.
The third quarter uprising came after a lethargic start compared to its spirited one in Wednesday’s shock 96-87 win over China, struggling to find its rhythm while allowing Iraq to take two five-point leads in the second quarter.
The tale of two halves should give Gilas a realization that it can’t afford to play lackluster every game, even against a Qatari side that is playing for nothing but pride.
Qatar fell 75-66 to Iraq in its debut Wednesday before being used as a battering ram by a Chinese squad that was eager to bounce back from the 96-87 loss to Gilas, losing 92-67.
The non-bearing game should prompt Reyes to give heavy minutes to the likes of Calvin Abueva, Jio Jalalon and Carl Bryan Cruz, to a name a few.
Abueva has logged a total of eight minutes in the two games, drawing an ejection opposite on China for his first quarter headbutt. Jalalon has been dealing with sloppy play in both games while Cruz has slowly gained confidence after scoring 11 points in 25 minutes against the Iraqis.