Gilas stumbles at home to Kazakhstan

By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno

December 1, 2018, 8:09 am

MANILA -- Kazakhstan tasted a humiliating defeat to Gilas Pilipinas in the Asian Games on neutral grounds last August. 

On Friday night, however, Kazakhstan got its revenge against Gilas, right at the latter's home floor.

Kazakhstan stunned Gilas with a 92-88 victory in their FIBA World Cup Qualifiers clash at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

Alexandr Zhigulin came up big early on before Anton Bykov provided a huge lift down the stretch as the visiting side held off the host in a tight showdown with huge implications in the road to China.

Kazakhstan actually showed some glimpse of its upset bid on Gilas right at the get-go, taking a 7-2 lead before the latter answered with an 11-0 run to go up, 13-7.

Both teams went neck and neck from thereon, especially when Zhigulin and Stanley Pringle began to take over in the final 20 minutes.

However, crucial free throws from Bykov and Rustam Yergali helped Kazakhstan take a 90-85 advantage with 34 seconds remaining.

Marcio Lassiter kept Gilas afloat with a triple, with just 26.1 seconds to play, but Yergali made a great feed to Bykov for the dagger layup.

Zhigulin finished with 30 points on 10-of-16 shooting, while Bykov added 20 on 6-of-9 shooting for Kazakhstan, which is now within a game of Gilas and Japan, 85-47 winner over Qatar at home earlier Friday, for third place in Group F with three games left to play in their respective campaigns.

Pringle's 29-point bomb, 22 in the second half, hardly mattered as Gilas fell to a tie with Japan at 5-4, ahead of a now must-win game against Iran at the same venue on Monday night. (PNA)