Gilas Pilipinas beats Kazakhstan, books the last ticket to FIBA World Cup

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas took the hardest way in booking the last ticket to 2019 FIBA World Cup after edging Kazakhstan 93-75 on Monday, February 25, 2019 in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Gilas Pilipinas beats Kazakhstan, books the last ticket to FIBA World Cup

Andray Blatche’s 40-point game helped Gilas Pilipinas beat Kazakhstan
Andray Blatche’s 40-point game helped Gilas Pilipinas beat Kazakhstan and booked the last ticket to FIBA World Cup | Photo Credit: FIBA website

There are multiple scenarios for Gilas Pilipinas to qualify in the FIBA World Cup. But above all, a win over Kazakhstan is a must and a loss will kiss the Filipinos’ World Cup hopes goodbye.

It was Philippines’ three-point shooting ability that helped the nationals secured their first win in the 6th window against Qatar. Tonight, Gilas cagers will try to duplicate the feat as they made it rain from the outside in the opener.

Andray Blatche alone had 5 triples in the 1st quarter but naturalized Kazakh, Anthony Clemmons was all out to thwart Blatche’s excellent performance. Nevertheless, Gilas Pilipinas had a slight advantage, 22-21 after the inaugural period.

Blatche continued to dominate in the 2nd quarter. However, his teammates were plainly timid offensively especially gunners Marcio Lassiter and Jayson Castro William.

Coach Yeng Guiao tried to insert June Mar Fajardo to help Dray Blatche. But the San Miguel center who just played 3 minutes versus Qatar still can’t find his rhythm due to sickness.

Philippines’ lack of energy paved way for Kazakhstan to regain the lead in the latter part of the 2nd quarter courtesy of Clemmons. Aside from the scoring momentum switch, Blatche obtained his 3rd personal foul.

Gilas finished the 1st half with a 7-0 run headed by Paul Lee for a thin 45-40 lead.

Not so good news for Philippines as another big man, Troy Rosario got into foul trouble with few seconds gone by in the 3rd period. Rosario obtained his 4th personal in attempt to grab an offensive board.

Andray Blatche, despite getting into foul trouble managed to hit the 30-plus point milestone of the game and gave Team Pilipinas a double-digit lead.

At the 3:30 mark of the 3rd quarter, Blatche got his 4th personal foul that prompted Coach Guiao to pull him out and send Fajardo back in.

With Blatche sitting on the bench for the rest of the penultimate quarter due to fouls, Jayson Castro William stepped up big time to achieve a 71-60 margin entering the final chapter.

June Mar Fajardo finally found his groove in the 4th quarter as “The Kraken” posted 9 points, 6 rebounds and Philippines maintained its significant advantage.

Come last 5 minutes of the ball game, triples poured down for both squads as Marcio Lassiter and Jayson Castro launched long treys for Gilas while Anthony Clemmons hit from the rainbow territory for Kazakhstan.

Under 2 minutes of the game, Philippines led Kazakhstan by 20 while on Group E, South Korea beat Lebanon that could possibly give Team Pilipinas the last ticket to the world cup if the nationals manage to win this game by virtue of best 4th placer.

At the final horn, Philippines beat Kazakhstan 93-75 and officially claiming the last ticket to the FIBA World Cup in August 2019 in China.

Congratulations, Gilas Pilipinas!

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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