MANILA — After a demoralizing 0-2 stint in the fifth window, Gilas Pilipinas is heading to the FIBA World Cup after all.
Gilas booked the much coveted seat to the global tournament with a 93-75 rout of Kazakhstan. South Korea also won, 84-72, over Lebanon early Monday (Philippine time).
At the Republican Velodrome in Astana, Andray Blatche prevailed over Anthony Clemmons in the battle of naturalized players and Gilas avenged its Window 5 defeat to Kazakhstan in style.
Gilas erupted for 26 points in the third quarter behind the late surge of Jayson Castro before limiting Kazakhstan to just 15 in the final frame to close out the game.
Blatche, despite being hobbled by foul trouble, finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and four steals for Gilas, which will enter the WC as the best fourth placer following Japan’s 96-48 blowout in Qatar.
Castro added 15 points, going 4-for-4 from long range, three rebounds, and one assist off the bench.
Junemar Fajardo showed that he can still deliver, contributing nine points, seven rebounds, and one assist in 12-and-a-half minutes of play while frustrating the Kazakhstan frontline.
Clemmons put up 27 points, four rebounds, nine assists, four steals, and one block while carrying the fight for Kazakhstan, but in the end, the locals lost steam at crunch time.
At the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Zouk Mikael, South Korea stifled Lebanon in the final quarter, only conceding eight points, that eventually knocked the latter out of contention, giving Jordan, which owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Lebanon, a free pass to the World Cup.
Jordan even put the exclamation point with an 86-80 upset against New Zealand. PNA -northboundasia.com