Smart Gilas Pilipinas bows to China in Fiba Asia Cup
MANILA, Philippines — Rendered scoreless for at least five minutes in the fourth quarter, Smart Gilas Pilipinas bowed to a youthful China squad, 68-71, Friday in its opening task in the Fiba Asia Cup at Ota Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan.
The men’s national squad sputtered towards the end, managing just five points in the final eight minutes and missing a chance to topple down the towering Chinese and a get a headstart in the group stages.
Philippines faces Lebanon Saturday in the group A clash in the tournament, which dangles three outright spots to the Fiba Asia Championship next year.
Top gunners Jeff Chan, Larry Fonacier and Gary David couldn’t buy a three-point to even the game in the final minute — summing up the struggles of Gilas Pilipinas from beyond-the-arc.
Marcus Douthit also could not get his stroke going from the stripe, muffing five freethrows including two which could’ve given PH back the lead with 1:10 to go.
Zhao Tailong, who had 11 markers, tied the game at 64 for China — whose oldest player in the roster is at 22 years old — on a trey with three minutes left.
It was an atrocious shooting night for the Philippines, meanwhile, making just six of its 35 attempts from the three point range.
Back-to-back treys from David and Fonacier, though, swung the momentum to the Philippines, bridging the third and fourth quarters.
But after posting a 64-56 lead on split freethrows from LA Tenorio with 6:32 left, the Philippines suddenly lost steam and allowed China to snatch the edge on a 11-0 run.
Ranidel De Ocampo paced Gilas Pilipinas with 11 points while Fonacier and
Douthit chipped in 10 markers apiece.
Tenorio, the 2012 Jones Cup MVP, contributed eight points, two rebounds four assists and two steals.