Fiba Asia: Philippines beats Saudi Arabia

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Friday, August 2, 2013


MANILA -- The Philippines needed a strong finish against Saudi Arabia, 78-66, to book an opening day victory in the 27th Fiba Asia Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Thursday night.

Long range shooters Larry Fonacier and LA Tenorio contributed 12 points apiece for the Philippines, which even led by as many as 16 points, 66-50, with 6:07 left in the fourth quarter.

But Aymam Almuwallad answered with twin treys to help Saudi Arabia get closer, 66-59, before the Gilas Pilipinas managed to take home the win.

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“The Saudis showed tonight (Thursday) that they deserve to be in this tournament. It was really difficult for us coming into this game without knowing so much how the Saudis play. It was also very difficult to coach basically that coming into this ballgame, we are trying to manage tomorrow's (Friday) ballgame,” said Gilas mentor Chot Reyes.

Fonacier, for his part, said they had expected a difficult time defeating Saudi Arabia and “it’s not going to be easy the rest of the way.”

“It was an ugly win, but it’s still a win,” said Ranidel de Ocampo, who registered nine points and six rebounds.

The Philippines won the rebounding department, 49-38, but committed more turnovers, 14-10.

“I think we had 11 at the half. That’s why even though we got off to a good start they (Saudis) were able to stay with us,” said Reyes.

Almuwallad topscored for Saudi Arabia with 18 points while Mohammed Almarwani and Mustafa Alhwhasawi added 12 and 11 markers, respectively.

Up next for the Philippines is Jordan, which failed to arrest the second half rally of Chinese Taipei earlier in the day, 91-87.

The Philippines will cap the three-game assignment in Group A against Chinese Taipei on Saturday also at the Mall of Asia Arena.

In other matches, South Korea shocked defending champion China, 63-59, while Bahrain needed extra five minutes to beat India, 82-80. Former champion Iran opened its title bid by routing Malaysia, 115-25.

The top three teams from each group, with their win-loss records, move up to the second round, with the qualifiers from Groups A and B comprising the six-team Group E, and those coming from Groups C and D making up the six-team Group F. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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