Gilas Pilipinas earns QF berth

Gilas Pilipinas’ Christian Standhardinger fires a shot off an Iraqi defender at the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup at Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Beirut, Lebanon Friday night.

MANILA — Gilas Pilipinas followed up its stunning win over China with another demolition job, blowing out Iraq, 84-68, to stay unbeaten in the 2017 Fiba Asia Cup in Beirut Friday.

Terrence Romeo, who keyed the 96-87 win over China Wednesday, once again led Gilas, banging in 17 points, 11 of them in the third quarter when the Filipinos broke the game wide open, outscoring Iraq, 28-9. Romeo also had four assists and two rebounds.

Big man Christian Standhardinger also starred for Gilas Friday, pouring in 16 points, 12 of them in the pivotal third period when the Filipinos took a commanding 60-39 lead after finishing the first half with just a one-point lead, 32-31.

Carl Bryan Cruz tallied 11 points, including 3-of-3 from behind the three-point arc. While Roger Pogoy finished with 9 markers and two boards. Veteran Gilas campaigner Gabe Norwood sparkled in defense once again, collaring seven rebounds and scoring 8 points.

With a 2-0 win-loss card, Gilas secured the top seed in Group B, assuring itself of an automatic quarterfinals slot. In can formalize its entry in the Top 8 with a win against winless Qatar Sunday, which bowed to China, 67-92, Friday for its second straight loss. Gilas Pilipinas can even afford to lose to Qatar and still come out on top by virtue of its superior quotient.

Gilas had a slow start against the much taller Iraqis who were led by explosive naturalized import Kevin Galloway, who led all scorers with 23 points on top of 14 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks.

The Filipinos finally got their game going at the start of the second half with Romeo and Stanhardinger sparking a devastating run that took the fight out of the Iraqis.

Gilas’ long-range gunners were once again on target, shooting 12-of-29 from three-point country.

On Thursday, Jordan edged Syria, 68-66, Japan routed Chinese Taipei , 87-49, Australia demolished Hong Kong, 99-58, Korea blasted Kazakhstan, 116-55, and New Zealand narrowly defeated host Lebanon, 86-82.

New Zealand remains unbeaten in Group C (2-0) followed by Lebanon (1-1) and South Korea (1-1), and Kazakhstan (0-2). Also with 2-0 card in Group D is Australia. Tied for second place are Japan (1-1) and Taipei (1-1), while Hong Kong is at the bottom (0-2).

Former champion Iran is on top of Group A (1-0) along with Jordan (1-0) followed by Syria (0-1) and India (0-1).