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Kazakhstan avenges bad beat to Gilas with road shocker

Team Kazakhstan celebrates their win against the misfiring Team Pilipinas after their game for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asia Qualifier at the Mall of Asia Arena. Rick Johnsen dela Cruz
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--Last August, Kazakhstan tasted a humiliating defeat to Gilas Pilipinas in the Asian Games on neutral grounds.

On Friday night, Kazakhstan got revenge at 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.

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-to-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 Kazkhstan take a 90-85 advantage with 34 seconds remaining.

Marcio Lassiter kept Gilas afloat with a triple with 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 on Monday night at the said venue.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno