By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno
MANILA — Gilas Pilipinas is still in the race for the FIBA World Cup.
The national basketball team got a much-needed win to stay alive in the Asian Qualifiers, drubbing Qatar, 84-46, at the Al-Gharafa Sports Club in Doha early Friday (Philippine time).
While both teams began the game slow, Qatar had a better start than Gilas, even taking an 11-8 lead with 4:06 left in the period.
Gilas, however, ended the quarter with a 7-0 run to take a 15-11 lead to the second.
Qatar stayed in pace in the early goings of the second period, but Gilas went on a 9-0 run later in the second to open a 29-17 lead before settling for a 31-21 halftime advantage.
Gilas then began the second half scorching from deep as triples from Paul Lee and Andray Blatche blew the game wide open.
Gilas eventually outscored Qatar, 31-9, in the third quarter and never looked back.
Blatche announced his return to Gilas with a double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds with seven assists, two blocks, and two steals.
Marcio Lassiter went 4-for-4 from three-point range and finished with 14 points alongside three rebounds, one steal, and one block.
Thirdy Ravena went scoreless in his debut with the senior team, but he had one assist in nearly 13 minutes of play.
The win effectively knocked Kazakhstan, Gilas’ next opponent, out of contention. Kazakhstan fell at home to Australia, 81-60, on Thursday night.
Erfan Saeed made 10 markers for Qatar, which fell to 2-9. (PNA)