Gilas five bounces back, rips LebanonBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
TOKYO—Marcus Douthit took charge in the stretch Saturday night as the Smart Gilas Pilipinas five bounced back hard after an opening Fiba-Asia Cup loss.
Scoring, rebounding and defending effectively, Douthit led the Filipinos to a 78-68 upset of Lebanon that got Team Philippines back in the Group A mix while also avenging its only Jones Cup blemish last month in Taipei.
With a considerably large number of OFWs cheering their every move, the Filipinos played inspired ball game, holding the Lebanese and the returning Fadi El-Khatib to just 12 third quarter points before pouring it on in the endgame at the Ota gym here.
Douthit finished with 25 points, 21 rebounds and one block on El-Khatib that led to a breakaway layup by Gary David that sewed it all up for the Philippines, 74-68, going into the final 23.5 seconds.
The win came after an endgame meltdown against China on Friday and likewise avenged a 19-point drubbing the Filipinos took at the hands of a relatively weaker Lebanese five in the Jones Cup.
“It was important for us to bounce back after a tough loss,” coach Chot Reyes said. “But also, it was for the Jones Cup (loss), when we didn’t take that team seriously. This is a tougher Lebanon team and we played great defense on them.”
El-Khatib, the Lebanese legend, played all 40 minutes and finished with 24 points built around an 11-of-12 clip from the free-throw line.
But it was clear that the star of the game was the 6-foot-10 Douthit, who hit nine of his points when the game hung in the balance, including seven straight which ushered the Philippines to a 70-61 lead.
“I felt that somebody had to step up and my teammates allowed me to do so,” Douthit, who battled former Providence teammate Garnett Thompson to a virtual standstill in the first three periods, said.
SMART GILAS-PILIPINAS 78 — Douthit 25, David 11, Tenorio 11, Norwood 10, De Ocampo 8, Fonacier 3, Thoss 0, Chan 0.
LEBANON 68 — El Khatib 24, Thompson 17, Akl 10, Abdelmour 8, El Khatib C. 4, Sarkis 3, Stephan 2, Tabet 0.
Quarters: 19-20, 38-41, 59-53, 78-68.