Smart Gilas 5 destroys UAE in Fiba Asia
The Nationals hardly missed Fil-Am wingmen Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz in demolishing the United Arab Emirates, 92-52, Thursday night in their debut in the Fiba Asian championship at the cavernous Wuhan Gymnasium.
Forced by organizers to bench Lassiter and Lutz due to eligibility concerns, Smart Gilas went scoreless for three minutes before Mac Baracael broke the ice with a jumper that woke up the Filipinos.
Mark Barroca came up with seven points as he joined hands with Marcus Douthit, Asi Taulava and Kelly Williams in stretching a 17-12 lead to 41-22 at the half.
“It was a fun game especially coming in we were a little bit distracted. It’s a tough situation, but being players we have to set those problems aside,” said Taulava.
Without starters Lassiter and Lutz, Smart Gilas was forced to lean on a smaller backcourt combo of Chris Tiu, Jimmy Alapag, JV Casio and Barroca.
“We have to do something tomorrow if these two guys don’t play. We could have put Dylan (Ababou) and Larry Fonacier in the lineup had we known this would happen,” said Philippine five coach Rajko Toroman.
Smart Gilas takes on host China today in a matchup Toroman described as problematic and challenging for the Filipinos.
“We can’t match up with them (Chinese) if our two guys don’t play but nobody knows what will happen,” said Toroman.
Fiba Asia officials had invoked a Fiba internal rule during a meeting Wednesday that requires Lutz and Lassiter to submit proof that both players acquired the Filipino citizenship before reaching the age of 16.
“If Marcio and Lutz can help us, it will be great. If not, we need to do something and adjust to the situation,” he added.
In other games, defending champion Iran opened its title-retention bid with a 49-37 win over Chinese Taipei; Jordan whipped Syria, 71-58, and South Korea dumped Malaysia, 89-42.
PHILIPPINES 92—Baracael 15, Taulava 13, Douthit 13, Casio 11, Barroca 9, Tiu 9, de Ocampo 7, Alapag 6, Williams 5, Aguilar 4.
UAE 52—Ahmed 12, Alhattawi 11, Ahmad 10, Alzaabi 7, Salem 6, Al Braiki 3, Abdalla 3, Alsari 0, Banihammad 0.
Quarters: 17-12; 41-22; 69-35; 92-52.