July 19, 2018, 4:02 am
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Gilas eyes playoff slot vs Iraq

BUOYED by its big win over China, Gilas Pilipinas seeks another victory today, this time against Iraq, to clinch a playoff berth in the FIBA Asia Cup at the Nouhad Nawfal Stadium in Beirut, Lebanon.

Like the Filipinos, the Iraqis also debuted with a win last Wednesday, scoring a 75-66 victory over Qatar. 

Coach Chot Reyes reminded his wards that they have only one win so far, a 96-87 decision over the Chinese. Gilas needs to complete a three-game sweep of Group B to avoid an early playoff battle against Australia.

“The important game is against Iraq,” Reyes added.

Iraq’s roster is virtually the same one that Gilas downed 84-75 in the Jones Cup last month. Naturalized playmaker Kevin Galloway will lead the Iraqi attack, alongside Mohammed Al-Khafaji and Karrar Hamzah.

Terrence Romeo put up a dazzling show before good-sized Filipino crowd, scoring a game-high 26 points spiked by five three-pointers, to go with four assists, as Gilas foiled a comeback bid by China.

The flamboyant Romeo came up big down the stretch by banging in eight straight points in the last five minutes as Gilas erased an 84-87 deficit and avenged its numbing loss to the Chinese in the FIBA Asia Championship two years ago in Changsha,
China.

Fil-German Christian Standhardinger, standing in for naturalized player Andray Blatche who refused to travel with the team due to the volatile situation in Lebanon, made up for Gilas’ lack of height as he chipped in 15 markers and six rebounds. Jayson
Castro (William) and Matthew Wright had 13 and 12, respectively.

Gilas also bucked the ejection of dynamo Calvin Abueva, who was slapped a disqualifying foul at the 2:27 mark of the first quarter after headbutting a taller Chinese player.

Abueva, however, is not likely to be meted a suspension and should lead Gilas’ charge anew along with Romeo, Romeo, Castro, Standhardinger, Wright, Japeth Aguilar, and Raymond Almazan.
 
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