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Fiba: Gilas outplays Saudis, sweeps 5th window

More than two months since giving Saudi Arabia a 38-point beatdown at home, the Philippines was welcomed by a more determined, more aggressive and much better rival from the Middle East.

In the end, Gilas Pilipinas was still able to find ways to win, scoring a 76-63 victory and sweeping the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah Sunday night (Monday morning in Manila).

The Saudis pushed the Filipinos into a defensive struggle before Gilas got more settled in the third with RR Pogoy, Kai Sotto and Scottie Thompson picking up their games.

Halfway the fourth period, the arena was like a surrogate home court for the Filipinos as overseas Pinoys here went in a frenzy capped by an alley-oop play between Thompson and Sotto, giving Gilas a 65-53 lead with 5:29 left.

Saudi Arabia showed up a much better team under new coach, Johan Roijakkers, a veteran coach from German Bundesliga, who injected a new fast pace game for the Saudis.

They came out fighting until the very end with Mathna Almarwani’s triple shoving his team within eight with a triple in the 2:08 mark.

But the Filipinos made sure there won’t be any endgame collapse as Gilas completed a sweep in the fifth window.

On 11 November, Gilas outlasted their Jordanian rivals, 74-66, in another away game.

By sweeping the fifth window, Gilas Pilipinas will be heading hone like a conqueror and set its sights for the home games scheduled in February next year where the Filipinos face their new bitter rivals from Lebanon and Jordan.

Dwight Ramos came out more offensive-minded against Saudi, leading the Gilas charge with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting while also dishing out four assists and grabbing three rebounds.

Pogoy also had 13 while Sotto came away with 11 markers, nine rebounds and five blocks.

CJ Perez added 10 and Thompson, the reigning Most Valuable Player in the Philippine Basketball Association, had another near double-double showing, ending up with nine points on top of nine boards.

The scores:

Philippines (76) — Ramos 13, Pogoy 13, Sotto 11, Perez 10, Thompson 9, Parks 8, Aguilar 6, Kouame 5, Malonzo 1, Erram 0, Oftana 0, Quiambao 0.

Saudi Arabia (63) — Almarwani 19, Abdel Gabar 16, M. Almarwani 8, Kadi 6, Aljohar 5, Ashoor 4, Mohammed 2, Shubayli 2, Belal 1, Almuwallad 0, Albargawi 0, Saleh 0.

Quarterscores: 16-16; 31-25; 55-45; 76-63.

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