The Philippine national men’s basketball team pulled away in the third period to reassert mastery over a new-look Saudi Arabia, 76-63, to end their campaign in the fifth window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in Jeddah on Monday morning (Manila time).
Thanks to the hot-shooting of RR Pogoy and CJ Perez, the Filipinos were able to fend off the hosts to sweep their fifth window games.
Pogoy finished with 13 points and four rebounds while Perez chipped in 10 markers, four boards, one assist, and one steal.
Kai Sotto also put up huge numbers with 11 points and nine rebounds to go along with five blocks and two dimes.
Pogoy waxed hot from the rainbow country in the third period, fueling a 7-0 run to open the frame before his back-to-back triples gave the Philippines a 16-point lead, 50-34, halfway through.
The Saudis, though, managed to end the period strong as they trailed by just 10 at the end, 55-45.
Perez then came alive in the payoff period even as Saudi Arabia cut its deficit to single-digits with a Mathna Almarwani three-pointer, 61-53, with 2:08 to go. Almarwani again nailed a basket to make it a 69-61 with Saudi still trailing, but a series of trips to the charity stripe ultimately handed Gilas the victory.
Gilas won its two away games in the fifth window to improve to 5-3 in Group E while Saudi Arabia dropped to 2-6. They defeated Jordan, 74-66, early Friday morning (Manila time) to open the window.
A low-scoring affair early saw the teams knotted at 16-all at the end of the first quarter, before the Filipinos outscored the hosts in the second period, 15 to 9, to cruise to a slim 31-25 halftime lead.
Dwight Ramos and Sotto led Gilas during that stretch, collecting seven and six points each while Khalid M Abdel Gabar paced Saudi Arabia with his eight markers.
But a strong second half spelled the difference for Gilas Pilipinas.
Gilas defeated Saudi Arabia during their fourth window meeting here at the MOA Arena last August 29 with the Philippines pulling off a 38-point win, 84-46, behind Jordan Clarkson’s 23 points.
—JMB, GMA Integrated News
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