GILAS Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes' fears proved to be substantiated as Saudi Arabia stayed close to the Philippines in the first half of their clash in the 2023 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers.
The Pinoys held a narrow 28-25 halftime lead against the hosts on Monday (Manila time) at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.
It was far from the blowout many Gilas fans expected with Saudi Arabia showing that it was capable of running the open court as it got nine fastbreak points in the first half.
Dwight Ramos, though, gave Gilas a bit of a breathing room, nailing a late three before the end of the second period for his team-high seven points and two rebounds.
Kai Sotto also did a better job imposing his will as he got six points, five boards, and three blocks to his name.
But Saudi wasn't one to be pushed around that easy, showing a new spring in its step under Dutch mentor Johan Roijakkers.
Khalid Abdel Gabar led Saudi with eight points, while Mathna Almarwani got seven points and six boards to go with a nasty chasedown block on Jamie Malonzo's dunk attempt in the first quarter.