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Blatche, Castro spearhead Gilas win in FIBA Asia QF's

By Jason Espiritu

CHANGSHA--Entering the matchup with Lebanon, Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin's main concern was fighting complacency early.

Even ex-head mentor Rajko Toroman warned the team not to be complacent and take Lebanon seriously as they are known for being tough and offly competitive.

Soon as the ball was tipped, complacency was far from being a problem.

Gilas held off gritty Lebanon, 82-70, in the quarterfinals of the FIBA Asia Championship at the CSWC Dayun Arena on Thursday night.

Despite conceding Jasmon Youngblood's opening attack, Gilas was focused and clearly trying to send a message to Lebanon coach Veselin Matic who said prior to the game that the Gilas game will be "easy easy".

Gilas was in clear cruise control as they led for 38:55 minutes of 40 available minutes. They also posted a lead as large as 14 points.

But the Lebanese never stopped competing.

They were in still game in the waning minutes until Gilas pulled away with three clutch baskets underneath from Marc Pingris.

Andray Blatche and Jayson Castro flashed brilliance the entire game, but key contributions from Pingris, Terrence Romeo, and Calvin Abueva and the defense of Gabe Norwood to Haidar were big to advance in Friday's semifinal action against Japan. 

Mohamad Haidar led the Lebanese with 18, while Bassel Bawji had 17 and Youngblood finished with 12. 

With the win, Gilas have already assured themselves a ticket for next year's World Olympic qualifier for those who failed the outright bids this year.

Box Scores:

Philippines 82 - William 25, Blatche 24, Romeo 10, Pingris 8, Abueva 7, Norwood 5, de Ocampo 3, Thoss 0, Ganuelas 0, Hontiveros 0

Lebanon 70 - Haidar 18, Bawji 17, Youngblood 12, Arakji 8, Abd El Nour 8, Saoud 7, Akl 0

Quarterscores: 20-16, 37-32, 57-49, 82-70

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