GILAS PILIPINAS : The Philippines capped off their successful Window 5 campaign with a victory in front of a boisterous crowd at King Abdullah Sports City.
In Window 4, Saudi Arabia looked like a different squad from the one that was wiped out in Manila, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Gilas from winning by 76 points.
Fans of both clubs were packed into the stands, and both squads emerged from the games full of enthusiasm. The two players started the game shooting a combined 6 for 21 from the field, suggesting that they were too pumped.
In the second quarter, Gilas began to gain momentum, and by halftime, they had opened up a 6-point lead. It wasn’t until the third quarter, however, that the Philippines established a decisive lead.
Gilas veteran RR Pogoy ignited the second half surge by scoring 11 of his 13 points in the third quarter.
Saudi Arabia made many attempts to come back into the game and keep the score close, but each time they were unable. They tried their hardest, but they still shot less than 30% from the field, and it wasn’t enough to win (23-78).
With 7 different players scoring at least 8 points, headed by Pogoy and Dwight Ramos respectively, the Philippines had a balanced scoring attack.
Mathna Almarwani (19 points, 8 rebounds) and Khalid Abdel Gabar (2 assists, 2 steals) led the way for Saudi Arabia (16 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists).
The Saudis never gave up, cutting the Philippines’ advantage to single digits on many occasions despite their team’s overall dominance.
It seemed like the home side had exhausted all of their options until Kai Sotto skied for an alleyoop jam midway through the fourth quarter.
While it was exciting to see Pogoy heat up in the third quarter, it has been even more rewarding to see Kai Sotto improve with each game. It’s true that he’s had games with more points and rebounds, but none with more blocks and greater EFF.
This stellar stretch for the youngster by Sotto ends with 11 points, 9 boards, 2 helpers, 5 blocks, and 23 EFF.
The numbers don’t lie
In the first quarter, both teams shot under 30% from the field, but only Gilas was able to get back on track. As a result, Saudi Arabia’s final percentage of 29.5% was well below the threshold at which any opponent, no matter how impressive, would have a chance against them.
What they said was:
“I really feel like the fans pumped us up. They were a tremendous help to us. They wouldn’t let us lose until we found our groove and began making shots in the second and third quarters.” Filipino head coach Vincent Reyes
“If you consider that we just played a game in the Philippines and lost by 38 points, you’ll understand why I have to give my players a lot of credit. We’ve only had a foreign coach for a total of seven practices and four games before we started competing at a high level. For forty minutes, we battled it out.” Johan Roijakkers, the coach of the Saudi national team
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