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    Team Pilipinas relies on defense, Blatche spark to roll past Qatar

    Feb 22, 2019
    PHOTO: Fiba.basketball

    ANDRAY Blatche made a rousing comeback for Team Pilipinas, leading the national squad to an 84-46 win over Qatar on Thursday night in the Fiba Basketball World Cup Asian qualifiers at the Al-Ghafara Sports Club Multi-Purpose Hall in Doha.

    Blatche had 17 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and two blocks in his first game back for the Philippines after serving out a suspension and being left out of the lineup for the previous window of the qualifiers.

    Blatche hit three three-pointers in the third quarter when the Philippines outscored its hosts, 31-9, to pull away for good in what was easily its most impressive performance since Yeng Guiao took over the coaching chores from Chot Reyes.

    The naturalized player completed a three-point play off a dunk for the Philippines’ first points of the night to set the tone for the match.

    A ruthless defense took care of the rest, limiting the host team to just 16 field goals and 28 percent shooting.

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    By improving to 6-5 (win-loss), Team Pilipinas stayed in fourth place in Group F, a game behind joint second-placers Iran and Japan. Australia leads the group with a 10-1 mark after an 81-60 win at Kazakhstan.

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    The Philippines' win also put pressure on Lebanon (6-4) and Jordan (5-5) to win their next assignments against China and New Zealand, respectively. Lebanon currently shares third place with China while Jordan is in fifth place in Group E.

    The top three teams in Groups E and F and the best fourth-placed team will move to the Fiba World Cup.

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      Marcio Lassiter scored 14 points on 4-of-4 shooting from downtown while Paul Lee added 13 points after converting three of his four three-point tries.

      As a team, the Philippines hit 50 percent of their three-point shots (15-of-30).

      Jayson Castro helped Team Pilipinas build a 31-21 halftime lead by scoring eight of his 11 points in the first half. Blatche hit three three-pointers, the last one giving Team Pilipinas a 49-23 lead.

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      Erfan Ali Saeed was the only double-digit scorer for Qatar, finishing with 10 points as the home team struggled to put points on the board against a tough defense by the Philippines.

      National coach Yeng Guiao was thrown out of the game due to two technical fouls when the game got a little chippy in the end after Thirdy Ravena was called for a hard foul on a Qatar dunk try.

      Ravena, the only amateur player in the lineup, saw action for 12 minutes, missing all four of his shots.

      The scores:

      Philippines 84 – Blatche 17, Lassiter 14, Lee 13, Castro 11, Aguilar 10, Barroca 7, Erram 6, Rosario 4, Norwood 2, Fajardo 0, Ravena 0, Thompson 0.

      Qatar 46 – Saeed 10, Elhadary 7, Fouda 6, Gueye 5, Khalid 5, Al-Rayes 3, Muslic 3, Abdelhaleem 2, Mujkic 2, Mohmeed 2, Avdic 1, Al-Darwish 0.

      Quarters: 15-11; 31-21; 62-30; 84-46.

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      PHOTO: Fiba.basketball
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