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FIBA World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers: Team Pilipinas faces Qatar in an 'empty' home floor full of confidence

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544   //    16 Sep 2018, 21:32 IST

Blodied but not out of it. Marcio Lassiter tries to bounce back in their game against Qatar.
Bloodied but not out of it. Marcio Lassiter tries to bounce back in their game against Qatar. {Credits to Fox Sports Philippines}

With their backs against the wall after losing against Iran, coach Yeng Guiao and Team Pilipinas face a desperate Iraq team tomorrow in their final fourth window game of the FIBA World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers at the Araneta Coliseum, Quezon City, Philippines.

Practically playing in a neutral ground in a closed-door game as one of the sanctions for the melee involving Australia last July, Team Pilipinas will have to rely on themselves and hope that their ice-cold guns will start to catch fire and prevent another debacle that could put their chances of advancing to the World Cup in jeopardy.

After serving out their one-game suspensions, Japeth Aguilar and Matthew Wright return to the lineup replacing Raymond Almazan and Allein Maliksi, who had so-so performances against Iran.

With an added gunner in the person of Wright, the key player in the last Philippine victory against Qatar scoring 25 points, coach Yeng Guiao can have an extra floor spacer who can open up the lane for Aguilar, Poy Erram, Ian Sangalang, and even the 45-year-old Asi Taulava, who surprisingly has been doubling as a floor spacer himself with his outside snipings.

The backcourt duo of Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter are expected to catch fire in this important game along with Paul Lee who was a no-show in the pivotal quarter due to a knee-to-knee collision against an Iranian.

The home team cannot afford to have another fourth-quarter debacle if they hope to keep their one-game lead against the fourth running Japan, who has been the one of the hottest team in the qualifiers buoyed by their shocking win against Australia in the last window.

Christian Standhardinger, the leading scorer and rebounder against Iran, will sit out to give way to Stanley Pringle, another explosive scorer who will definitely fill in the scoring void left by the Fil-German. Pringle's ability to penetrate, dish, and score from anywhere gives Team Pilipinas an added artillery.

Leading the campaign of the visiting team Iraq are Clinton Johnson III and Tanguy Ngombo, their leading scorer and rebounder, respectively.

Coming off a blowout loss against Australia, coach Timothy Lewis looks to take advantage of the empty venue to score a much-needed win to keep their hopes of advancing to the World Cup alive.

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A public school teacher and a basketball coach, the writer loves everything about sports and is thrilled writing about it.
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