GILAS Pilipinas withstood a late rally by Qatar to escape with an 80-74 win that completed a 3-0 sweep of the preliminaries Sunday in Beirut, Lebanon.
The man of the hour was Matthew Wright who cut loose with 25 points on 7-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc, as the Philippines assured itself of a spot in the quarterfinal round of the 2017 Fiba Asia Cup.
The Filipinos will play either Japan or South Korea in the quarterfinal round.
The Filipinos decked the Qataris with 15 triples, but still encountered some scary moments in the game as they had to play without Christian Standhardinger. Worse, Calvin Abueva left the game just when the Qataris were mounting an offensive late in the game.
But the Filipinos hung tough to foil the Qataris.
Gilas went business right away, posting a 41-27 lead at the half which snowballed to as big as 20 points (49-29) on a corner three by Gabe Norwood.
The Qataris, however, refused to go down without a fight as Mohamed Saad and Mansour El Hadary sparked a last-ditch comeback.
A lay-up by Abdulrahaman Al Muftah trimmed the lead to just five, 75-70 with 2:08 to go, but Wright was there to steer the Filipinos out of harm’s way by sinking a three pointer with 1:49 left in the game.
Carl Bryan Cruz finished with 13 points built around three triples, as the Philipines never ran out heroes.
Terrence Romeo, who starred in Gilas first two victories against China and Iraq, still finished in double digits with 10 points, while Gabe Norwood finished with the same output on points to go along with a team-high seven rebounds, five assists and two shot blocks.
El Hadary led the Qataris with 23 points and six assists as Saad added 18 points and 11 rebounds. The team finished the group phase winless in three outings.
Philippines (80) – Wright 25, Cruz 13, Norwood 10, Romeo 10, Castro 6, Pogoy 5, Almazan 4, Aguilar 3, Abueva 2, Jalalon 2
Qatar (74) – El Hadary 23, Saad 18, Erfan 9, Abdelhaleem 8, Mohamed 6, Al-Mufta 6, M. Mohamed 4, Al-Darwish 0, Abelkawy 0, Al-Rayes 0
Quarter scores: 25-16, 41-27, 59-47, 80-74