MANILA, Philippines - Skipper Chris Tiu took charge in the third quarter as Smart Gilas Pilipinas fashioned out an 81-67 victory over Syria to even its card after two games in the FIBA-Asia Stankovic Cup in Beirut, Lebanon early Monday.
Tiu scored nine of his 14 points at resumption of action in the second half as he combined with Asi Taulava to turn a 35-40 deficit into a 63-53 lead en route to the victory.
The 6-9 Taulava, a last-minute addition to the badly-depleted squad, churned out a double-double job of 16 points and 19 rebounds and finished with two shot blocks.
“He’s what the doctors ordered for Smart Gilas,” said Smart Gilas manager Frankie Lim referring to the 35-year-old Fil-Tongan, loaned by Coca-Cola and the PBA to backstopped the undermanned team.
Smart Gilas thus bounced back from a 59-74 loss to powerhouse Lebanes in last Sunday’s opener.
Co-skipper Mark Barroca and Mac Baracael backed Tiu and Taulava with 16 and 11 points, respectively, while Japeth Aguilar, who sustained a cut that requires 22 stitches a few days before leaving Manila, also made six points, four shot blocks, three rebounds and two assists.
Smart Gilas is competing sans naturalization candidate 6-10 Marcus Douthit, seven-foot Fil-Am Greg Slaughter and 6-7 Rabeh Al-Hussaini. Douthit has yet to secure an RP passport while Slaughter and Al-Hussaini were forced to stay home due to previous academic commitments.
It was the second straight setback for the Syrians, who dropped a 75-83 decision to the Qataris, a team composed mainly of naturalized Africans.
The Filipinos face another powerhouse team in Jordan, which surprisingly took a shock 59-63 defeat from Qatar yesterday.
In Group A action, Chinese Taipei downed Kazakhstan, 80-64, and title-favorite Iran edged Japan, 72-68.