MANILA, Philippines - Smart Gilas Pilipinas rammed into a tall, solid Lebanon side and took a 59-74 beating in Group B action at the start of the FIBA-Asia Stankovic Cup in Beirut, Lebanon over the weekend.
The hosts rained the Filipinos with a near-impeccable shooting, coming up with 10 triples, including five from Rony Fahed, the same player who powered Lebanon past RP in the FIBA-Asia Champions Cup last May in Doha, Qatar.
Fahed finished with 23 points while Lebanese-Canadian Ali Mahmoud and Ghaleb Reda tossed in 12 points apiece for the lopsided win.
The undermanned Filipinos, however, were able to hold prolific Jackson Vroman, an American turned naturalized Lebanese, to just seven points.
Asi Taulava, tapped to backstop the team which missed the services of at least three of its key men, shackled Vroman and finished with seven points, eight rebounds, two steals and an assist in 32 minutes of action.
Not suiting up for Team RP are naturalization candidate Marcus Douthit, seven-foot Fil-Am Greg Slaughter and 6-7 former UAAP MVP Rabeh Al-Hussaini.
Douthit failed to join the team since he has yet to obtain a Philippine passport, while Slaughter and Al-Hussaini had previous academic commitments.
Fadi El Khatib, who announced earlier this year he would no longer play for the World Championship bound-Lebanese team, came out of retirement and contributed four points, six rebounds, three assists, a steal and one shot block in only 13 minutes.
JV Casio and Mac Baracael paced the Nationals with 15 and 14 points, respectively, but they failed to get the needed offensive support from the rest, who went into early foul trouble.
In fact, Smart Gilas was assessed a total of 27 fouls leading to 25 free throw attempts for Lebanon, which converted 18 charities.
Casio, skipper Chris Tiu, co-captain Mark Barroca and Fil-Am Marcio Lassiter all fouled out.
Smart Gilas was playing Syria at presstime and is set to collide with powerhouse Jordan tonight.
The Filipinos close out their elimination round assignment Tuesday against the Qataris, who beat the former in their last meeting in Doha Champions Cup.