GILAS Pilipinas used a strong second half to beat Iraq, 84-68, to stay on top of Group B in the Fiba Asia Cup in Lebanon.
The Philippines is undefeated in Group B, 2-0, and is assured of a top finish regardless of the result of its final match against winless Qatar at 9 p.m. today.
Gilas, which opened the campaign with a statement win over defending champion China, went off to a sluggish start as naturalized Iraqi Kevin Galloway found his range in the first quarter for a 19-17 lead.
Galloway made it 28-22 with 4:40 left in the second before Japeth Aguilar, Terrence Romeo and Carl Cruz teamed up to level the count at 29. Mathew Wright then dropped a three to give Gilas the lead, 32-29 before Iraq cut it to one at half-time.
In the second half, both teams were tied at 35-all before Filipino German Christian Standhardinger, Romeo, and Cebuano Roger Pogoy teamed up in a 21-0 run to put the Philippines comfortably up, 56-35.
Iraq ended the bleeding with a three, but Gilas held on for a 20-point cushion, 60-40, and cruised to their second win in as many games.
At 2-0, Gilas is already assured of the No. 1 spot in the group and will advance to the quarterfinal round against the winner of the match between the second-ranked teams in Groups C and D, which at the moment, are Lebanon and Chinese Taipe respectively. However, that could change in the final round of matches as Lebanon is tied with Korea at 1-1 in Group C and Chinese Taipe is tied with Japan at 1-1 in Group D.
Standhardinger finished with 16 points, seven rebounds in 19 minutes of action, while Romeo had 17 and was 3-of-8 from the three-point line.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on August 13, 2017.
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