But Gilas Pilipinas had to contend with a late threat from the Qataris, who cut a 23-point lead down to just nine points, 74-65, with just 2:11 remaining. But Gabe Norwood coming up with a pair of big defensive stops on naturalized star Jarvis Hayes as Qatar managed just five points, including a three-pointer at the buzzer, the rest of the way.
The victory kept the Filipinos’ hopes alive to finish on top of Group E. Their final placing after the group stages would still depend on Wednesday’s showdown between Chinese Taipei and Qatar and the Philippines final second round match against Hong Kong.
Like in the Philippines’ victory the previous day against Japan, Japeth Aguilar came in to spark a big run for the team. Gilas outscored Qatar, 25-7, to take a commanding 47-29 edge heading into halftime.
The Philippines led by as much as 23 points, 57-34, in the third quarter and still nursed a 19-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
But Qatar slowly chipped away at the lead after Gilas naturalized player Marcus Douthit got hurt midway through the quarter. With the Philippines’ top center out, Qatar made a final push, before Gilas clamped down to hold on to the victory.
Douthit carried Gilas against Qatar’s taller frontline, finishing with 19 points and 14 rebounds, but was visibly hobbled by injury towards the end of the game. Aguilar added 14 points and seven rebounds for the Philippines, which won despite shooting just 29 percent from the three-point line.
Hayes finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, but shot just 41 percent from the field. Erfan Ali Saeed added 13 points for Qatar, which struggled against the Philippines defense, managing to shoot just 39 percent, including a miserable 19 percent from beyond the arc.
With a lightweight opponent in Hong Kong scheduled for Gilas on Wednesday, the Filipinos can afford to rest some of its injured players in time for the knockout rounds, which will begin on Friday.
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