THE Philippines is back to the world stage. Gilas Pilipinas earned the last spot after finishing as the best fourth-ranked team in the Fiba World Cup Asia qualifiers.
The Philippines outclassed Kazakhstan, 93-75, in Astana, Kazakhstan and had a little bit of help from South Korea to earn the best fourth place spot. South Korea Korea defeated Lebanon, 84-72, to help the Philippines get the last spot.
“I’m glad they made it!,” PBA legend and current Philippine Sports Commission commissioner Mon Fernandez told SunStar Cebu.
Fernandez played for the Philippines in the international stage in 1973, in which the country won the gold medal in the Fiba Asia Championship.
Cebuano basketball star Dondon Hontiveros believes that naturalized bigman Andray Blatche’s performance was a huge boost for the Philippines’ win over Kazakhstan.
“Let’s start with coach YG (Yeng Guiao). Him not getting Blatche in the previous window made Andre hungrier and have that mentality of wanting to prove something, which I think affected how he played in the last two games,” said Hontiveros. “And China losing to jordan makes our chances to qualify more complicated, but good for us Korea won over Lebanon. I would say the basketball gods favored us with how the team responded in our last game. I am excited for the team in World Cup. And I think they will perform well with the PBA also adjusting to their schedule.”
Hontiveros played for the Philippines in 2015, when the country won the silver in the Fiba Asia Championship.
Blatche missed four games for the Philippines since being suspended after a brawl with Australia.
Blatche, however, made his presence in the Philippines’ last two crucial games.
Blatche, who currently plays in China in the pro league, had huge game for the Philippines with 41 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Jayson Castro added 15. (EKA)