Gilas five blasts Macau, braces for tough phaseBy Musong Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
TOKYO—Call it the calm before the storm for Smart Gilas-Pilipinas.
Taking it easy for the second straight game and with Marcus Douthit getting the day off, the Filipinos tore Macau to shreds as expected, 98-46, Monday and then braced for the matches that truly matter on Thursday in the fourth Fiba-Asia Cup at Ota Gymnasium here.
Opening up with 14 unanswered points and allowing the first enemy field goal only after five minutes, the Filipinos coasted along for a third straight game and will take the second-best Group A record into the KO phase.
Lebanon and Fadi El-Khatib, who took a 10-point drubbing at the hands of the Filipinos on Saturday, grabbed the top seeding in the group with an 89-69 ripping of China Sunday night.
The Lebanese won out in the quotient system after winding up tied with the Chinese and the Filipinos at 3-1, with Uzbekistan taking No. 4 position. Only Macau-China was eliminated from Group A.
What’s left to be determined in Tuesday’s final preliminary round playdate is the opponent of the Filipinos, who could clash with either Chinese-Taipei or Qatar, the Group B No. 3.
“Right now, the challenge is to keep the players sharp and fresh at the same time,” coach Chot Reyes said after a late lunch on Monday, one that his players terribly needed after a hard, hour-long workout after the Macau game.
Douthit sat out his first game for the Philippines since the victorious Jones Cup campaign, but broke a lot of sweat in practice as Reyes pushed his men in running drills.
The Filipinos held the Macau-Chinese to just five points in the fourth quarter and to 13 the entire second half even with Reyes trying on different combinations.
Reyes tried a lineup that had four point guards and one big man in Sonny Thoss, before experimenting with a crew with no one under 6-foot-5 on the floor and with Gabe Norwood as the point guard.
“It’s imperative that we are able to try out such combinations during games, so we know that, when it comes down to crunch time, we know we can do it.”
Reyes gave the Nationals some bonding time on their day off Tuesday with the team arranging a trip to see the sights of Tokyo.
Jeff Chan was again hot from the outside against Macau, shooting 18 points in 14 minutes built around four triples.
The Filipinos, granting that they hurdle their quarterfinal foes on Thursday, will most likely be clashing with Group B topnotcher Iran in the semifinals.
SMART GILAS-PILIPINAS 98—Chan 18, Reyes 12, David 12, Ganuelas 11, Dillinger 11, Norwood 9, Tenorio 7, Thoss 6, Fonacier 6, De Ocampo 4, Villanueva 2.
MACAU 46—Lao 14, Cheong 12, Lo 10, Cai 6, Lai 4, Wong 0, Iong 0, Iong N 0.
Quarters: 33-14, 55-33, 83-41, 98-46