FIBA WC: Zhigulin powers Kazakhstan in shocking upset of Gilas

Kazakhstan vs Gilas Pilipinas

Star Alexandr Zhigulin fired 30 points to power Kazakhstan to a gutsy 92-88 win over Gilas Pilipinas on Friday, November 30 in the FIBA Basketball World Cup Asian Qualifiers fifth window at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Zhigulin shot an efficient 10-of-16 shooting including 6-of-12 from three-point area and added seven rebounds as his side held on for the stunning upset victory in what was mostly a back-and-forth duel.

Anton Bykov added 20 points, nine rebounds, and two steals while Rustam Murzagaliyev added 11 points and six assists in the win which pushed Kazakhstan to 4-5 in Group E. The Philippines fell to 5-4, in a tie with Japan for third to fourth places.

The visiting Kazakhs came out firing from long distance as well, making 52.2 percent of their attempts throughout the game. They also shot significantly better from the field overall at 57.1 percent compared to Gilas’ 42.2.

“This is everything for me. We played as a whole team because the guys showed character. We recovered from mistakes like rebounds, turnovers,” Zhigulin said.

“We did a good job because the last four games, we lost. We had to change something because this is a big chance for us to win something for our country. I am happy with how I helped the team win tonight and with what I scored. Everybody did a good job.”

Kazakhstan led by as much as 38-30, controlling the first half after going on a 7-2 opener. They settled for a 40-39 lead at the intermission.

Stanley Pringle steered Gilas in the third frame, scoring 14 of his team-high 29 points in the penultimate quarter to keep it close.

An and-one play completed by Bykov made it 71-66 for Kazakhstan in the final period, but Gilas went on a 13-4 run capped by Pringle’s lay-up to push the locals ahead, 79-75 with over four minutes remaining.

But Kazakhstan kept their composure as they did throughout the game, with Zhigulin scoring four straight to tie the count at 79 apiece.

Later, Nikolay Bazhin hit two free throws before finishing a fast break lay-up off a Pringle miss to take an 86-83 lead with 1:20 left.

Free throws by Bykov and Yergali kept Kazakhstan ahead, 90-85. Marcio Lassiter knocked down a triple with 26.1 ticks left to pull Gilas within two, but Bykov iced it with an uncontested inside basket with 12.7 seconds to spare.

“What I (told) the guys in the locker room is we stayed as a family until the end,” Kazakhstan mentor Renatas Kurilionokas said.

“We are strong physically and mentally.”

Kazakhstan’s aggressiveness translated to more free throw attempts than Gilas, 34-15. They also had the upperhand in assists, 19-16.

Watch Gilas Pilipinas vs Kazakhstan FIBA Qualifiers Highlights Video

June Mar Fajardo tallied a double-double of 14 points and 13 boards while Lassiter chipped in 13 points including 3-of-4 triples for Gilas.

Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao took the blame for the loss, but insisted that his team should continue with a positive mindset as they move forward to their final three games of the qualifiers.

“Well, of course we are disapppinted but we still have one game on Monday. We can’t feel too negative about ourselves,” Guiao shared. “I think we can salvage the situation if we can play a good game against Iran and learn lessons from this game.”

The Philippines will face Iran on Monday, December 3 in the same venue in a must-win game to keep themselves ahead in the race for the World Cup slots.

The scores:

Kazakhstan (92) – Zhigulin 30, Bykov 20, Murzagaliyev 11, Yergali 10, Bazhin 9, Kuanov 8, Marchuk 4, Chsherbak 0, Lapchenko 0, Gavrilov 0.

Philippines (88) – Pringle 29, Fajardo 14, Lassiter 13, Tenorio 8, Norwood 7, Thompson 6, Wright 5, Aguilar 5, Erram 2, Cabagnot 0, Slaughter 0, Belga 0.

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