MANILA, Philippines — Qatar did host Philippines a big favor Wednesday afternoon.

Backed by the Filipino crowd, Qatar drew Chinese Taipei’s first loss, 71-68, giving Gilas Pilipinas a golden opportunity to top Group E and elude a looming encounter with defending champion China in the knockout quarterfinals of the 27th FIBA Asia men’s Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The Nationals will only need to beat winless Hong Kong later to seize the top spot in their group. Taipei and Qatar will settle for the second and third seed, respectively if the Philippines, regardless of the winning margin, take care of its last assignment in the second round.

Had the Qataris, who dropped an 80-70 decision to the Filipinos Tuesday night, lost to the Taiwanese or won by more than 15 points, the Nationals would be number three and most likely meet China in the crossover knockout stage.

Yaseen Musa led Qatar, which improved to 3-1, with 20 points and 19 rebounds. Naturalized player Quincy Davis III paced Taipei, which also totes a 3-1 record, with 23 points and eight rebounds.