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Ruthless Defense Leads Team Pilipinas to Win over Qatar

Team Pilipinas keeps its FIBA World Cup bid alive.
IMAGE FIBA
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ANDRAY Blatche made a rousing comeback for Team Pilipinas, leading the national squad to a 84-46 win over Qatar on Thursday night in the Fiba Basketball World Cup Asian qualifiers at the Al-Ghafara Sports Club Multi-Purpose Hall in Doha.

Blatche had 17 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and two blocks in his first game back for the Philippines after serving out a suspension and being left out of the lineup for the previous window of the qualifiers.

Blatche hit three three-pointers in the third quarter when the Philippines outscored its hosts, 31-9, to pull away for good in what was easily its most impressive performance since Yeng Guiao took over the coaching chores from Chot Reyes.

The naturalized player completed a three-point play off a dunk for the Philippines’ first points of the night to set the tone for the match.

A ruthless defense took care of the rest, limiting the host team to just 16 field goals and 28 percent shooting.

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By improving to 6-5 (win-loss), Team Pilipinas stayed in fourth place in Group F, a game behind joint second-placers Iran and Japan. Australia leads the group with a 10-1 mark after an 81-60 win at Kazakhstan.

The Philippines' win also put pressure on Lebanon (6-4) and Jordan (5-5) to win their next assignments against China and New Zealand, respectively. Lebanon currently shares third place with China while Jordan is in fifth place in Group E.

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The top three teams in Groups E and F and the best fourth-placed team will move to the Fiba World Cup.

Marcio Lassiter scored 14 points on 4-of-4 shooting from downtown while Paul Lee added 13 points after converting three of his four three-point tries.

As a team, the Philippines hit 50 percent of their three-point shots (15-of-30).

Jayson Castro helped Team Pilipinas build a 31-21 halftime lead by scoring eight of his 11 points in the first half. Blatche hit three three-pointers, the last one giving Team Pilipinas a 49-23 lead.

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Erfan Ali Saeed was the only double-digit scorer for Qatar, finishing with 10 points as the home team struggled to put points on the board against a tough defense by the Philippines.

National coach Yeng Guiao was thrown out of the game due to two technical fouls when the game got a little chippy in the end after Thirdy Ravena was called for a hard foul on a Qatar dunk try.

Ravena, the only amateur player in the lineup, saw action for 12 minutes, missing all four of his shots.

The scores:

Philippines 84 – Blatche 17, Lassiter 14, Lee 13, Castro 11, Aguilar 10, Barroca 7, Erram 6, Rosario 4, Norwood 2, Fajardo 0, Ravena 0, Thompson 0.

Qatar 46 – Saeed 10, Elhadary 7, Fouda 6, Gueye 5, Khalid 5, Al-Rayes 3, Muslic 3, Abdelhaleem 2, Mujkic 2, Mohmeed 2, Avdic 1, Al-Darwish 0.

Quarters: 15-11; 41-21; 62-30; 84-46.

This story originally appeared on Spin.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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