HUGE CROWD. Gilas Pilipinas thanks its fans in Jeddah for showing up in its game against host Saudi Arabia at the King Abdullah Sports City on Monday (Nov. 14, 2022-PH Time). The Philippines won, 76-63, to the delight of the huge crowd, mostly Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia. (Photo courtesy of FIBA)

MANILA – Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes lauded the Filipino fans who trooped to the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah to support them in their FIBA World Cup Qualifiers game against Saudi Arabia.

While Saudi Arabia is the designated host for the match early Monday (Philippine Time), the Gilas fans were more raucous especially when the 76-63 win was formalized as if it was held in the Philippines.

"I think we got a lot of energy from the crowd. They really gave us a huge boost," Reyes said after the game.

Saudi was poised for a huge upset early on after forcing a 16-all tie at the end of the first quarter.

However, with their fans cheering, Gilas slowly pounced on the hosts, especially in the second half, where they began to finally make their shots.

"They just wouldn't allow us to lose until we hit our stride and finally hit some shots in the third quarter," Reyes said.

Gilas actually set things up in the second quarter after holding Saudi to just nine points to take a 31-25 halftime lead.

"We were able to use our defense essentially to pull off the victory," Reyes added.

RR Pogoy and Dwight Ramos each scored 13 points for Gilas, which swept the fifth window and moved up to 5-3 in Group E play.

Mathna Al-Marwani led Saudi Arabia, which dropped to 2-6, with 19 points, eight rebounds, one steal, and one block. (PNA)