Yeng Guiao
Philippines hard-pressed to win vs Qataris
Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - September 15, 2018 - 12:00am

FIBA World Cup qualifiers

MANILA, Philippines — Weather permitting, Team Philippines seeks to keep solo third place in Group F when it plays Qatar Monday in its fourth “home” game in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

But the weather disturbance has already hit the Nationals’ schedule, reducing Team Phl’s practice hours with the 12-hour delay of its flight back to Manila from Iran.

Coach Yeng Guiao and his troops were stranded in the Dubai International Airport, expected to arrive in Manila at 8:25 a.m. today, instead of 8:30 p.m. last night.

But Qatar might also have experienced the same problem coming from Doha where the Qataris suffered a 43-95 rout at the hands of the Aussies Thursday.

The Philippine quintet dropped a 73-81 loss to Iran in Tehran but stayed at third place as fourth-running Team Kazakhstan also bowed to Japan, 70-85, over in Almaty.

Through the Sept. 13 window of the Asia/Pacific FIBAWC eliminator, Australia and Iran remained tied in the lead in Group F with their identical 6-1 win-loss cards, followed by the Philippines (4-3), Kazakhstan and Japan at 3-4 and Qatar at 2-5.

But after back-to-back losses to the Aussies and the Iranians, the Filipinos must handle well their next games if they’re to stay on course for a second straight stint in the FIBA World Cup.

Having served their one-game suspension, Japeth Aguilar and Matthew Wright are expected to be back on board in their closed-door game against Qatar Monday.

Then the team is also hoping that Greg Slaughter, nursing an ankle sprain, would already be ready at least on the eve of the game where teams decide on their Final 12.

Team Phl is 2-1 so far in home games, winning against Chinese Taipei and Japan, and yielding to Australia in their fight-marred game.

Qatar, meanwhile, is winless on hostile ground. The Qataris beat the Iraqis, 77-66, on a neutral venue in Tehran on Feb. 22 before repeating with an 84-79 decision at home in Doha on July 2.

Against Australia Thursday, Qatar utilized for the first time returning national player Tanguy Alban Ngombo.

The 57th overall pick by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Qatari/Congolese top scored with 14 points that went with eight rebounds, two assists and one steal against three turnovers in 25 minutes of action.

It was a lopsided match where coach Andrej Lemanis’ Boomers struggled with a mere 29-percent three-point shooting but struck hard under the paint at around the perimeter area.

Jesse Wagstaff scored 18 points to pace the Boomers who also drew double-digit outputs from Anthony Drmic, Daniel Johnson, Mitch McCarron and Nic Kay.

The Boomers outrebounded the Qataris, 46-32.

Meanwhile, Japan kept its surge with its 15-point conquest of Kazakhstan.

The Japanese stretched their run to three games as Iran Brown returned as Japan’s naturalized player, taking over from Nick Fazekas.

A steady force in all those games was Rui Hachimura, a 6-foot-8 Japanese/American who plays US college ball with Gonzaga.

Hachimura, who is only 20, scattered 24 points and snared seven rebounds against the Kazakhs. 

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