By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball continued its strong outing and took down Saudi Arabia, 76-63, to sweep their FIBA Asian Qualifiers November window last October 14, 2022.
After outdueling Jordan to kick off their Window 5 campaign on a high note, the Filipino hoopers picked up where they left off and scored a wire-to-wire victory in front of a hostile Saudi Arabian crowd.
Gilas once again banked on their talented pool of players and got a balanced offensive attack with four players scoring in double figures.
RR Pogoy led the way for Gilas and became their spark plug once again after providing the much-needed offensive punch in the third quarter when Saudi Arabia began to strike back.
The TNT Tropang Giga’s main gunner was responsible for Gilas’ 19-9 opening scoring rally in the third and dropped 11 of his 13 points during that sequence.
Dwight Ramos finally entered the double-digit scoring mark after focusing on the defensive end in their game against Jordan and finished with 13 points, four assists, and three steals.
Saudi Arabia fought back in the last three minutes of the game after cutting Gilas’ lead to just eight points, 69-61, but Kai Sotto and Ramos scored crucial baskets that pushed their lead back to double digits.
“We knew the high quality of this team and we had mentally prepared ourselves to struggle, coming off a tough game against Jordan and a tough trip. Luckily, we stayed patient through our early struggles,” said Gilas head coach Chot Reyes.
CJ Perez also played his role as the second unit’s top scorer and chipped in 10 big points including big shots to answer Saudi Arabia’s scoring spurts in the second quarter.
After the FIBA November window, the national team will have three more months of rest before taking on Lebanon and Jordan in the February 2022 window.