Gilas Pilipinas and Iraq are both looking to stay undefeated in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup but only one will prevail in their game on Friday. The Philippines and Iraq were the underdogs in their first matchup in the tournament against China and Qatar, respectively. However, both teams were able to prevail and earn the upset victories.
The Philippines are coming off a 96-87 win over rivals and reigning Asian champions China on their Wednesday’s opening game. Gilas Pilipinas controlled the game in the first three quarters as they had a double-digit lead. However, a furious rally by China erased the deficit and took the lead in the middle of the final quarter.
Terrence Romeo, the rising superstar of Gilas Pilipinas, carried his team as he scored eight points in the fourth quarter, per ABS-CBN News. Romeo put up a total of 26 points, four assists, and one steal against China. He hit a total of five three-point shots and shot an efficient 64.3 percent from the field.
The Filipinos led by as many as 17 points but turnovers and complacency helped China get back into the game. Romeo took over when Gilas Pilipinas was down 87-84 with just four minutes remaining in the game. He hit a three-point shot to tie the game before making a fadeaway jumper to give Gilas Pilipinas the 89-87 lead.
The 25-year-old Gilas Pilipinas guard was not finished as he put the game away with another three-point shot well behind the arc. The Filipinos were able to hold the lead from there as they celebrated the big win after the final buzzer much to the dismay of the Chinese players.
Christina Standhardinger added 15 points and 16 rebounds while Jayson Castro William had 13 points, three rebounds, and seven assists. Matthew Wright also had a big game with 12 points while Calvin Abueva was ejected after just a minute and 31 seconds in the court, as reported by SPIN.ph. Abueva won’t be suspended against Iraq despite his antics from the last game.
On the other hand, Iraq is also coming off an upset 75-66 win against Qatar. Naturalized big man Kevin Galloway led the Iraqis with 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three steals, and one block. It was a total team effort by Iraq because four more players reached double digits in scoring. They are Karrar Hamzah, Hassan Abdullah, Mohammed Al-Khafaji, and Ali Ismael.
Despite Iraq being closer to Lebanon than the Philippines, Gilas is going to feel like they are at home because of their fans. Many Filipinos are working in the Middle East and some of them made the trip to Lebanon to support Gilas Pilipinas.
Gilas Pilipinas vs. Iraq will happen on August 11 at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Beirut, Lebanon. The game starts at 6:00 a.m. PST, 9:00 a.m. EST, and 4:00 p.m. in Lebanon. Fans can also watch the game via live stream on Sports 5 Live and Live Basketball TV.
[Featured Image by Hussein Malla/AP Images]