ALEXANDR Zhigulin was smoking hot as Kazakhstan torched the Philippines to come away with a 92-88 squeaker Friday in the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Kazakhs' starting center waxed hot from deep to finish with 30 points, seven rebounds, and two assists and deal the hosts a rude reality check after earlier being touted as the best collection of Filipino talent to date.
Stanley Pringle could not rescue the Philippines as his 29 points, four assists, and three boards went down the drain.
Team Philippines fell to 5-4 in Group F in the second round of the Asian qualifiers to drop to a third-place tie with Japan.
Chemistry was a real issue for Gilas in this humiliating performance as Pringle was forced to carry the torch for the squad late.
Nikolay Bazhin and Anton Bykov time and again punished the Philippine defense, earning numerous trips to the line before Rustam Yergali canned a pair of freebies with 34.2 seconds left to give Kazakhstan a 90-85 lead.
Marcio Lassiter buried a triple that kept the Filipinos' hopes up, 90-88 in the final 26.1, but Yergali found an open Bykov to ice the game with 12.7 seconds remaining.
Not even LA Tenorio's triple late in the game could get a lick at the bottom of the basket, sending the capacity crowd that trooped to the 20,000-seater venue shaking their heads in disbelief.
Bykov pumped 20 points, nine rebounds, and two steals, while Yergali got 12 points, six rebounds, and four dimes that negated his 10 turnovers.
Home court advantage meant little for the Kazakhs, shooting 57-percent from the field and 12-of-23 from downtown.
Kazakhstan improved to 4-5 to stay in the hunt for the top three, which comes with an automatic ticket to the global basketball meet.
Aside from Pringle, the Philippines barely had any support from its other players as the concerns prior to the game proved to be true.
The loss also meant that the nation's road to the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China next year just got a lot harder.
Gilas will host Iran on Monday for their final home game in the Asian qualifiers. The game, though, comes with a heightened sense of urgency, putting coach Yeng Guiao's seat hotter than ever.
June Mar Fajardo chipped in 14 points, 13 rebounds, three steals, and two assists, while Lassiter got 13 points on a 3-of-4 shooting from distance in the defeat for the Philippines.
KAZAKHSTAN 92 -- Zhigulin 30, Bykov 20, Yergali 12, Murzagaliyev 11, Kuanov 8, Bazhin 7, Marchuk 4, Chsherbak 0, Lapchenko 0, Gavrilov 0.
PHILIPPINES 88 -- Pringle 29, Fajardo 14, Lassiter 13, Tenorio 8, Norwood 7, Thompson 6, Wright 5, Aguilar 4, Erram 2, Cabagnot 0, Belga 0, Slaughter 0.
Quarters: 17-18, 40-39, 65-62, 92-88.