20 November, 2017
26 February, 2019
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Are Philippines poised for payback and World Cup qualification against Kazakhstan?

ASTANA (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers) - The Philippines shot themselves in the foot the last time they played Kazakhstan, but can they avenge that loss and punch their tickets to the World Cup this time around?

Key matchup:

Andray Blatche wasn't around when Kazakhstan rained 12 three-pointers on the Philippines in the previous window, but with the former Washington Wizard and Brooklyn Net in tow, the Philippines have more length and versatility up front to hopefully contain Kazakhstan's sweet-shooting frontline. On the other end, Alex Zhigulin - the guy who hit 6 triples in Manila - is coming off a dreadful 1-of-7 performance against Australia. The Steppen Wolves need him to put up big numbers again if they are stand any chance of salvaging a win to end their Asian Qualifiers campaign.


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Kazakhstan's new naturalized player, Anthony Clemmons, announced himself with aplomb in their previous game, scoring 31 points to go along with 4 steals, 4 three-pointers and 3 assists. He was more than a match for the Boomers' point guards, and he will be equally tough to contain here when ranged against the Philippines' Jayson Castro, Paul Lee and Mark Barroca. If Clemmons lights up the scoreboard anew, the Kazakhs could pull the rug from under the Filipinos a second time.

Kazakhstan outlook:

There is no longer any tangible incentive for coach Renatas Kurilionokas and his wards to win this game. Even a victory will not qualify them to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019, but it would end their campaign on a strong note and give their home fans some reason to hope for a bright future in Kazakh hoops. Aside from Clemmons and Zhigulin, other guys who need to step up are frontliners Nikolay Bazhin, Anton Bykov and Dmitriy Gavrilov along with guards Rustam Yergali and Rustam Murzagaliev.

Philippines outlook:

Despite losing to Kazakhstan in the previous window, the Philippines are still heavy favorites to get their seventh win in the Asian Qualifiers. With Blatche leading the way, coach Yeng Guiao is not leaving anything to chance against a team that blindsided them last November. Remember that the Filipinos unloaded 15 three-pointers on hapless Qatar a few days ago, and if their hot streak from long distance continues here, we could be seeing a lopsided win for the visitors and their second straight World Cup appearance.