HANGZHOU—Calvin Oftana and CJ Perez waxed hot in the first half as the Philippines crushed Qatar, 80-41, on Monday to set up a blockbuster quarterfinal clash with Iran in the 19th Asian Games at the Zhejiang University Zijingang Gymnasium.
The Philippines takes on the Asian powerhouse at noon on Tuesday in the same venue with both teams eyeing a semifinal slot.
Oftana, bloodied from a gash in the mouth caused by an errant elbow late in the first quarter, came out blazing with three straight 3-point shots to match Justin Brownlee’s nine points as Gilas raced ahead 33-13 in the first period.
Perez buried a buzzer-beating triple to cap a 15-0 first quarter run that had Gilas coach Tim Cone and team manager Alfrancis Chua applauding.
With a 57-23 lead at the half, Cone had the luxury of resting Brownlee, June Mar Fajardo and Scottie Thompson for most of the game in preparation for the pounding they would go through against Iran.
Brownlee played under nine minutes while Fajardo and Thompson didn’t play longer than 16 minutes.
China is in the semifinal and will face the winner of the knockout game between South Korea and Bahrain Monday.
Jordan, which beat Gilas Pilinas in Saturday’s preliminaries, meets Saudi Arabia at 4 p.m. and Japan takes on Chinese-Taipei at 8 p.m.
Winners in the round of 8 advance to the semifinals on Wednesday with games set at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. both at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center.
It was 73-30 at three quarters as Gilas responded to Cone’s call for more aggressiveness during afternoon team practice last Sunday and later at dinner.
Their 71 percent field goal shooting (12 of 17) in the first quarter virtually sealed the game as the Qataris floundered on 4 of 14 from the floor.
The biggest lead was 43 points.
Every Gilas player chipped in with extended minutes with Oftana, after getting his cut fixed, retuning to add a baseline jumper to his output.
Cone left Ange Kouame practically gasping for breath inside for almost 30 minutes, the longest playing time for the team, to give the 7-footer a taste of what to expect when he goes up against the hefty Iranians.
“We had a script and we followed that script very well,” Cone said. “We wanted to get off quick and get the lead so we can bring Justin out of the game and have him ready for tomorrow against Iran.”
“That was one of our main goals and we were able to do that. We also got rest for Scottie and June Mar and some of the guys who have been playing heavier minutes,” Cone said. “And we got time for like Kevin [Alas] and Arvin [Tolentino] to get out, and Chris [Ross] and Marcio [Lassiter] to get some minutes.”
Cone bared “some adjustments were made in our offense to get the guys to play a little more free because the triangle can get you locked in into thinking too much.”
With no spare time left to practice for Iran, the Nationals made use of their comfortable advantage to work some things out for their quarterfinal showdown.
“It was almost like a practice for us,” Cone said. “That big lead in the beginning, basically after the first quarter, gave us the opportunity to practice for Iran. Plus, we were able to rest Justin. So, you know, we landed the first plane, now we go into the second plane. We got Iran next, and hopefully we can get that one, barge into the Final Four and see what happens.”
Chua, the San Miguel Corp. sports director and Gilas team manager, said the restored faith would be crucial heading to the game against Iran.
“The confidence is back, especially after that loss [to Jordan],” Chua said. “The boys felt that loss but they played Qatar fiercer.”
Sharing the view was Philippine Basketball Association commissioner Willie Marcial, Gilas’ deputy team manager.
“The players wanted very much to bounce back,” Marcial said. “That’s the way our team reacts to a loss.”
Sa big men, sa mga guwardya, na-execute natin. Sana magawa rin natin bukas yung mga ‘yon.”
Fajardo and Perez, who was 2 for 2 from 3-point range, each had 12 points, Oftana had 11 and Brownlee and Japeth Aguilar 9 points each. Alas added 8 points with Kouame, while Tolentino contributed 6 on two treys.