Lebanon overwhelms tired Smart Gilas five
TAIPEI—Succeeding where two teams recently failed, Lebanon buried Smart Gilas-Pilipinas in a hole so deep there wasn’t a Houdini escape Act 3 for the Filipinos Friday in the 34th Jones Cup here.
Catching the Filipinos in their worst forms, the Lebanese started out hot and sustained their sizzling play throughout the match, erecting leads of as many as 32 before cruising to a 91-72 victory at Taipei Physical Education College gym here.
Elie Stephan, a six-year veteran of the Lebanese national squad, torched the Filipinos from afar, and Jarred Famous, a recently naturalized 6-foot-9 center, was an immovable force underneath as they spearheaded the unexpected rout.
Stephan finished with 28 points built around seven triples, and Famous threw his weight around the paint to shoot 26 and grab 11 boards—his best in the tournament—as the Lebanese won a second straight game to rise to 2-4.
Marcus Douthit again lapsed into early foul trouble and the Philippines’ outside guns jammed all game as the Filipinos converted only three of 16 triple tries and finished with a 41 percent norm.
Only title chance
The Filipinos dropped to 4-1, its only chance of challenging for the title now resting on a victory over undefeated defending champion Iran at 3 p.m. Friday.
“If we can beat Iran, I still think we have a chance,” PH coach Chot Reyes said. “But with the kind of game we played today, we have no chance.
“We got outplayed, they came in with a solid game plan and kicked our butts,” Reyes added. “That’s the best lesson we’ve learned so far in this tournament. Our players need to play successive games and get used to it.
“Our shooters can’t make shots, they didn’t have their legs. You can’t allow yourself to fall behind big and try to catch up.”
Looking fatigued right from the opening tip after overhauling formidable deficits over South Korea and Japan the previous two days, the Philippines trailed by 11 at the half and was held scoreless in the first three minutes of the third quarter.
The game got out of hand for the Filipinos from there, as the Lebanese took a 59-34 lead at the halfway mark of the third period. Lebanon closed out the quarter sitting on a comfortable 74-46 bubble.
Two unanswered baskets at the start of the fourth quarter bloated that advantage to 78-46.
“After the opening two games (against Iran and Korea), we weren’t a good reflection of our national team,” Lebanese coach Ghassan Sarkis said. “I felt the team spirit was still great even though we were losing.
“I felt, in the early stages (when the team was 0-4), it was us beating ourselves,” he added. “With all due respect to the Philippines, I felt we were very dominant today.”
Third-quarter baskets came in trickles for the Filipinos and they didn’t have anyone to stop Stephan, who also had six rebounds and six assists and whose shooting percentage from three-point range—58 percent—was far better than his 38-percent clip from the floor.
“Coming into this game, we knew that we were going to play a very good team,” Stephan said. “We have been getting very bad publicity back home. But I guess today we proved a point.”
After Iran, the Filipinos will take on Taipei-A on Saturday and then close their stint against the United States on Sunday.
Gabe Norwood has so far sustained his brilliance, finishing with 15 points coming off the bench, but the other usual contributors were practically absent, with Douthit held to just 11 and six rebounds in just 21 minutes.
“Marcus must be a lot smarter,” Reyes said. “There are things he needs to understand, his value on the floor and how important it is for him to stay on the floor.”
Jeff Chan was held down to just three points, and Gary David shot only five.
LEBANON 91—Stephan 28, Famous 26, Abdelnour 14, El Khatib 12, Kanaan 4, Akl 3, Martinez 2, Iskandar 2, Souaid 0, R. Iskandar 0, Sarkis 0.
SMART GILAS-PILIPINAS 72—Norwood 15, Douthit 11, Mercado 11, Rosser 6, Tenorio 6, David 5, Thoss 4, Villanueva 3, Chan 3, De Ocampo 2, Fonacier 2.
Quarters: 22-15, 43-32, 74-46, 91-72