Vic Sotto steps up for Gilas, Qatar coach contemplates run for president, and other Day #6 highlights

Vic Sotto's antics helped lift the crowd. (Czeasar Dancel/NPPA Images)

SECOND ROUND DAY #3 RESULTS

(SR-E) Jordan def. Japan, 65-56

(SR-F) Iran def. Kazakhstan, 85-53

(SR-E) Qatar def. Chinese-Taipei, 71-68

(SR-F) China def. Bahrain, 88-66

(SR-E) PHILIPPINES def. Hong Kong, 67-55

(SR-F) Korea def. India, 95-54


GAMES ON FRIDAY (August 8—all games at Mall of Asia Arena)

10:30 (Consolation Match for 9th-12th place) Bahrain vs. Hong Kong

12:45PM (Consolation Match for 9th-12th place) Japan vs. India

3:00PM (Quarterfinals) Iran vs. Jordan

5:45PM (Quarterfinals) Chinese-Taipei vs. China

8:30PM (Quarterfinals) PHILIPPINES vs. Kazakhstan

10:30PM (Quarterfinals) Korea vs. Qatar


MALL OF ASIA ARENA, Pasay City—A handful of Gilas Pilipinas supporters came in the early afternoon to cheer for another country—with a passion and fervor almost equal to the way they cheer for their own. The 3:00PM tiff between Group E contenders Qatar and Chinese-Taipei was perhaps more anticipated than the eventual Philippines vs. Hong Kong tilt as aficionados knew very well that the Qataris needed to beat the Taiwanese to allow the host nation to top its group in the ongoing FIBA-Asia Championship here.

In a match where neither team could gain a distinct edge, Qatar—fuelled by the roars of the Filipino crowd that had come to lend them temporary morale support—used a massive fourth quarter run to threaten to pull away from the Taiwanese as they opened up a 64-52 advantage heading into the midway point of the final canto. However, many began getting worried that the Qataris may overdo the rout and some defected to cheer for the Taiwanese.

Heading into the encounter, Qatar needed to beat Chinese-Taipei but not exceed a final deficit of fifteen points as FIBA points system would give the Qataris the number one spot in the group and push the Philippines to the second spot, where a date with defending titlists China awaits. But suddenly, it was the Taiwanese squad that mounted a rally capped by forward Tien Lei’s layup to knot the count at 68 apiece; sending many into panic-mode as Chinese-Taipei threatened to spoil the home team’s plans. But a basket by Qatari forward Daoud Musa Daoud coupled with a free throw from naturalized American cager Jarvis Hayes gave them the final lead as the Taiwanese failed to knot the score at the buzzer.

The venue erupted in a frenzy as if the championship had already been won and cordial smiles were flashed by many of the Qatar players as they exited the floor with a 71-68 triumph that—at the time—put Gilas Pilipinas within a victory over winless Hong Kong to cop the top seed in the group and take on Group F fourth seed Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals, at the same totally avoiding powerhouse squads China and Iran until the finals, if ever.

“How’d you guys like that? That one’s for you,” an elated Qatar Head Coach Tom Wisman yelled to the frantic crowd behind their bench.

Later, at the post-game press conference, Wisman joked about his newfound popularity among Filipino fans.

"I think I can run for president of the Philippines with this result," he deadpanned. "I might even get a few votes."

RELATED: Thoughts too long for Twitter: FIBA Asia Championship Day 6

The Qataris got a huge game from veteran forward Yasseen Musa, who racked up twenty points to along with a staggering nineteen rebounds—nine of them off the offensive glass.

“I played like Shaquille O’Neal today,” Musa told me after the match. “It was my best game in a while.”

Yasseen Musa had 20 points and 19 boards for Qatar. (Czeasar Dancel/NPPA Images)

Qatar missed in its mission of trying to win by more than fifteen points and hence will drop to number three in Group E where they meet Group F’s second seed Korea in the first phase of the knockout stages. Chinese-Taipei—by virtue of the loss—now has the unenviable task of taking on a revitalized China quintet, now rejoined by ailing Yi Jianlian.

“He’s ready and we’ll see how he does,” an optimistic Chinese Head Coach Panagiotis Giannakis told me before their clash with also-ran Bahrain. “He’s regained much of his mobility and we will test that today (against Bahrain).”

The former NBA starter wasted no time in getting back into the groove of things by scoring the first five points for the Chinese against a helpless Bahraini defense. Yi ended up playing only thirteen minutes in the lopsided 88-66 win but was able to contribute 12 points on 5/7 shooting along with six boards.

Yi Jianlian returned to action for China. (Czeasar Dancel/NPPA Images)

To be honest, he didn’t look like he was ever injured. His agility was unchanged and he even showed his verticality at one point by dunking over a defender from the lowpost with only one dribble to the hoop.

Many were already thanking their guardian angels that Qatar gave the Philippines a crack at avoiding China, but there was still a task that needed to be done—defeat Hong Kong.

“I don’t wanna jinx anything,” Philippine center Marcus Douthit told me before the encounter when I was asking what he predicted the spread would be. “I’ll start and maybe play about five minutes and rest the calf. It’s still pretty painful.”

Douthit ended up playing almost 33 minutes.

Hong Kong was aggressive from the onset as they cashed in on the poor shooting shown by the Filipinos and also went on to crash the boards more effectively than the taller and more experienced local team, 45-36—19 of which came from starting forward Duncan Reid alone.They even led in the first two periods, 19-13 and 33-28 as the almost capacity crowd present was beginning to get anxious.

RELATED: A closer look at Gilas' unconvincing win against Hong Kong

The perimeter sniping of Hong Kong Chan Siu Wing gave the Gilas defenders fits as he began making shots that were already heavily challenged and attempts from way beyond the three-point arc, and if they missed a shot, they were quicker to get to the long rebound than the Filipinos.

This drove Coach Chot Reyes bananas and during one timeout huddle smashed his playboard into several pieces as Gilas was misfiring from many ends.

Vic Sotto wants to take a shot. (Czeasar Dancel/NPPA Images)

Gilas was shooting so poorly that comedian Vic Sotto, father-in-law of Gilas forward Marc Pingris and a decent basketball player during his younger years, wanted to help out and take a shot himself.

The hilarious incident happened late in the third period with Gilas nursing a slim 41-39 lead. A bad pass by Hong Kong center Duncan Reid sent the ball out of bounds and into the VIP section, where Sotto was seated. Bossing Vic caught the ball, stood up, and threatened to take a shot.

The crowd, on edge and anxious for most of the game, erupted in laughter. Score one more for Bossing Vic!

Eventually, the better team prevailed as Gabe Norwood and Jason William scored at the most opportune instances to give the Philippines a “slim” 67-55 over the determined Hong Kong squad. With the win, the Qataris gift did not go to waste as the host nation officially sealed the top spot in the group and got their wish: a quarterfinals rendezvous with struggling Kazakhstan.

In other results to cap off the second round of the competition, Jordan outlasted Japan 65-56 to claim the final Group E berth in the quarterfinals. Their reward is a match-up against undefeated Iran—a team they upset in the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championship in Wuhan. China. Iran walked all over hapless Kazakhstan, 85-53, and in the nightcap, Korea made minced meat of India 95-54 to solidify the final pairings in the knockout stages, which begin on Friday, August 8th here.

I will write another piece on the “road to the finals” tomorrow. For now, let’s revel in what Gilas Pilipinas has achieved and get ready for the “win or go home” portion of the tournament. Team Philippines got its wish, now the question is can they convert this opportunity?

Give me a few hours to break that down.

BOX SCORES

SR-E: Jordan def. Japan, 65-56

JOR 65—Baxter 16, Hussein 15, Alhamaresheh 10, Al-Sous 9, Hadrab 6, Zaghab 4, Aldwairi 2, Alfaraj 1, Abdeen 1, Al-Najjar 1, Abu Ruqayah 0.

JPN 56—Tsuji 14, Kurihara 8, Takeuchi 7, Ichioka 7, Kanamaru 5, Sakuragi 5, Sakurai 4, Hiejima 4, Tanaka 2, Matsui 0.

SR-F: Iran def. Kazakhstan, 85-53

IRI 85—Haddadi 16, Afagh 15, Kamrany 11, Veisi 9, Kardoust 7, Davoudichegani 7, Sohrabnejad 6, Nikkhah-Bahrami 4, Jamshidijafarabadi 3, Davari 3, Sahakian 2, Arghavan 2.

KAZ 53—Yargaliev 14, Lapchenko 8, Sultanov 8, Klimov 7, Bazhin 6, Ponomarev 5, Zhigulin 5, Bondarovic 0, Murzagaliyev 0.

SR-E: Qatar def. Chinese-Taipei, 71-68

QAT 71—Musa 20, Hayes 13, Daoud 10, Saeed 8, A. Ali 7, Mohamed 7, Abdi 4, Elhadary 2, Mo. Abdullah 0, Mohammed 0.

TPE 68—Davis 23, Chen 13, Yang 7, Lu 6, Tien 6, Lee 5, Creighton 5, Tseng 3, Lin 0, Tsai 0, Chou 0.

SR-F: China def. Bahrain, 88-66

CHN 88—Chen 13, Yi 12, Wang Zhizhi 11, Wang Zhelin 11, Guo 11, Zhou 10, Wang S. 6, Zhu 5, Zhang 5, Sun 2, Li 2.

BRN 66—Altawash 13, Azzam 13, Akber 10, Y. Kawaid 10, M. Alderazi 9, A. Alderazi 5, M. Kawaid 3, Aman 3, Malabes 0.

SR-E: PHILIPPINES def. Hong Kong, 67-55

PHI 67—Douthit 13, Chan 12, Norwood 11, William 11, Tenorio 9, Pingris 6, Fonacier 2, de Ocampo 2, Alapag 1, Aguilar 0, David 0, Fajardo 0.

HKG 55—Chan S. 16, Reid 12, Li 6, Wong 6, Lam 6, Fong 4, Lau Tung 3, Chan Y. 2, Lee 0, Lau Tsza 0.

SR-F: Korea def. India, 95-54

KOR 95—Cho 14, Kim Ming 14, Choi 13, Yang 10, Lee S. 10, Kim Joo 8, Lee J. 8, Kim Jong 7, Kim Sun 6, Yoon 3, Kim Tae 1, Moon 1.

IND 54—P. Singh 18, Pethani 11, J. Singh 10, Bhriguvanshi 6, Amj. Singh 4, Bhamara 3, Amr. Singh 2, Grewal 0, Y. Singh 0.

Follow Noel Zarate on Twitter (@NoelZarate) and email sportztackle@yahoo.com

Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed in this post.

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

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