MANILA, Philippines—“I think I can run for president of the Philippines right now, don’t you think?”
Qatar coach Rob Wisman declared this in jest on Wednesday after gift-wrapping for the Philippines the No. 1 seeding—and the lightest possible Final Eight assignment—in the 27th FIBA Asia Championship following an upset 71-68 decision of Chinese Taipei.
“How many votes do you think I can get?” he added after steering the Qataris, beaten by the Filipinos Monday night, to a win that meant little to them but made millions happy in this basketball-crazy country at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
Yasseen Musa, a 38-year-old who has been in the Qatari national program for the past two decades, scored 20 points and grabbed a tournament-high 19 rebounds as Qatar dealt the Taiwanese, conquerors of the Filipinos in the first round, a first loss in this tournament that rewards the top three finishers with slots to the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.
Both Qatar and Chinese Taipei finished the second round with 4-1 slates in Group E, which Gilas Pilipinas matched later in the night by beating lightweight and winless Hong Kong in its final game, 67-55.
The Filipinos found the going rough, needing to come up with a big second half to turn back their foes, who absorbed their fifth straight setback.
Under the quotient system that was applied to break the three-way tie, the Philippines nailed the top spot with a plus 5 quotient, with Taiwan finishing second and Qatar third.
The decisive factor in the tiebreaker was the country’s 10-point win over the Qataris on Tuesday. Gilas earlier lost to the Taiwanese by five points, 84-79.
Chinese Taipei, whose main outside gunner, the 6-foot-2 Lin Chih-chieh, saw limited minutes because of an ankle sprain, wound up No. 2 with a plus 2 quotient while Qatar was No. 3 at minus-7.
The Filipinos now get their initial wish to meet Kazakhstan in the first round of the KO stages on Friday even as the Taiwanese face the daunting task of hurdling defending champion China next. The Kazakhs finished No. 4 in Group F.
The other KO pairings will be Iran against Jordan and Qatar versus South Korea.
If the Philippines slips past the Kazakhs, Gilas goes up against either the Qataris or the Koreans in the Final Four with another win securing for Gilas a place in next year’s World Championship.
Qatar came into Wednesday’s contest needing to win by 16 points to win the No. 1 ranking. The Qataris got to lead by as many as 12 early in the fourth period, 68-56, only to suffer a cold spell that allowed the Taiwanese to draw level at 68.
The Qataris looked in disarray before the braided-haired Daoud Mosa Daoud hit a layup for 70-68 going into the final 43.3 seconds.
After coming out of a timeout, the Taiwanese put the ball in the hands of Tien Lei, their 6-foot-10 forward who was once invited by the Dallas Mavericks for a tryout. Tien then missed a contested layup.
Jarvis Hayes, the 10th overall pick by the New Jersey Nets in the 2002 NBA Draft that included LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, split his charities off a foul by Chen Shih-chieh with 12.1 seconds remaining for what turned out to be the final count.
Tseng Wen-ting, the pony-tailed Taiwanese veteran who made crucial triples in the endgame of the last two Chinese Taipei wins, failed to send the game into overtime when his heave at the buzzer was way off the mark.
“I can’t ask for anything more from what the players gave today,” Wisman said. “This was a nice win against a quality team. We came with the mind-set that we needed to win by 16 points.”
QATAR 71—Musa 20, Hayes 13, Daoud 10, Saeed 8, Ali 7, M. Mohamed 7, Abdi 4, Elhadary 2, Mohammed Saleem Abdullah 0, B. Mohammed 0.
TAIPEI 68—Davis III 23, Chen 13, Yang 7, Tien 6, Lu 6, Lee 5, Creighton 5, Tseng 3, Chen 3, Lin 0, Chou 0, Tsai 0.
Quarters: 15-15, 29-28, 49-48, 71-68
GILAS PILIPINAS 67—Douthit 13, Chan 12, Norwood 11, Castro 11, Tenorio 9, Pingris 6, Fonacier 2, De Ocampo 2, Alapag 1, Fajardo 0, Aguilar 0, David 0.
HONG KONG 55—Chan 16, Reid 12, Lam 6, Li 6, Wong 6, Poon 4, Lau 3, Chan 2, Lau T. 0, Lee 0.
Quarters: 13-19, 28-33, 46-43, 67-55
Originally posted at 11:12 pm | Wednesday, August 7, 2013