Lebanon coach: Gilas Pilipinas played more as a team this time
BOCAUE, Bulacan – Lebanon coach Jad El Hajj admitted that his team saw something in Gilas Pilipinas squad, this time led by new naturalized player Justin Brownlee, in their 107-96 loss in the Fiba World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers on Friday at Philippine Arena.
El Hajj observed how the Philippine team played unselfish basketball this time around, dishing out 31 assists in their game, led by Scottie Thompson’s six dimes as five Filipinos scored in double figures.
“Honestly, they played today as a team. They had more than 20 assists,” said the Lebanon coach after the game.
“The last time, they played more as individuals. Today, they shared the ball. They played more as a team. They deserve it,” he added.
The Cedars took down the Jordan Clarkson-led Filipinos, 85-81, as the latter only had 18 assists in Beirut last August.
El Hajj also praised Brownlee, who played in the Lebanese league in 2019, after the Philippines’ naturalized star shone in his debut with 17 points and five assists.
“We know him. He played before in Lebanon in the league, four years ago. He is a great player. He likes to play with the team,” he said. “He is not the type of player that just play one-on-one. He did an amazing job. They helped him a lot especially since he has size.”
The Lebanese missed Wael Arakji, Ali Haidar, Jonathan Arledge, Ater Majok, and Norvel Pelle in the sixth window.
Depleted Lebanon gave up 15 turnovers and allowed Gilas to score 29 from its errors and sink 17 three-pointers.
“It’s hard to win a game when your opponent scored 107 and we did many turnovers usually we do this when we have the energy we let our opponents make turnovers, we score from turnovers,” El Hajj said. “Today, we did a lot of mistakes offensively and defensively.“
The Lebanon coach was still happy with how his other players, led by Amir Saoud’s 27-point effort, stepped up for their short-handed team.
Lebanon , will face New Zealand on Monday. The team is already qualified for the World Cup in August despite seeing its four-game win streak halted by Gilas to slide to a 7-2 record in Group E.