Gilas nips Taipei-A, seeks title vs US fiveBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
TAIPEI—Up against a talented enemy in very hostile territory, Smart Gilas-Pilipinas got an unlikely lift from the smallest man on the floor and moved within another win of ruling the Jones Cup basketball championship here.
LA Tenorio, a 5-foot-8 guard who’s struggled in this tournament big time, hit all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter and powered the Filipinos to a 76-72 victory over Taipei-A on Saturday before a raucous hometown crowd at the Taipei Physical Education College gym here.
Tenorio, who has been bullied around in past games by taller, beefier guards, hit three triples in succession in the early part of the fourth period to give the Philippines the buffer it needed to cushion a hard Taiwanese finish.
The Filipinos, who were together as a team for less than a month, rose to 6-1 with the victory and would need to upset the United States today in order to win the championship without any complications.
Taipei bowed out of the title hunt after dropping to 4-3.
“That’s why he is in this team. There’s a reason for him being here,” Philippine coach Chot Reyes told international media. “We’ve had a good tournament so far, and tomorrow, we need to come out hard to make it a great tournament.”
The PH-US duel is slated at 5 p.m., and a loss could knock the Filipinos out of the title picture because of a plus-five quotient might not hold up in a tiebreaker.
“I know every team scouts us and they come out to guard all our shooters, and today, I thought Taipei did a great job of covering our shooters,” Reyes added. “But in doing that, they had to give something up, and that was (leaving) LA (open).”
Tsung Hsien-chang, a graceful swingman who plays in the US NCAA, led the Taiwanese with 16 points, but missed a free throw with 2:39 left which would have tied it all up at 69.
The Philippines had beaten Iran by two and Korea by three, and if it loses big to the Americans, then the Filipinos could even wind up without a medal.
Korea vaulted back into contention after an 82-73 victory over Iran earlier, and could also end up with a 6-2 record if it beats Taipei-A on Sunday.
SMART GILAS-PILIPINAS 76—Chan 14, Douthit 14, Tenorio 11, De Ocampo 11, Norwood 10, Fonacier 5, David 5, Mercado 4, Thoss 2.
TAIPEI-A 72—Wen 18, Tsung 16, Chai 11, Lei 9, Hsueh 8, Cheng 5, Shih 3, Tai 2, Hsin 0, Chih 0, Yi 0.
Quarters: 16-all, 37-29, 54-56, 76-72.