The two-game winning run of the Smart-Gilas Pilipinas came to a halt, losing to the more aggressive Qatar team, 66-61, at the end of its elimination round campaign in the FIBA-Asia Stankovic Cup Tuesday at the Ghazir Stadium in Beirut, Lebanon.
The national team had several chances to pull off another upset victory after playing catch-up in the early going but their defense crumbled in the final three minutes, allowing the Qataris to escape with the win.
Dylan Ababou buried a three-pointer that trimmed Qatar’s lead to 56-61 with 3:43 left to play but that was the best they could do as power outage hit them.
The long scoring drought came to an end when Chris Tiu made a triple to make it 59-64 with 36 seconds remaining in the game.
Despite the setback, which leveled their win-loss record at 2-2 after the eliminations, the Nationals will advance to the crossover quarterfinal stage.
“We fought hard against Qatar but we came up short. I’m still happy because we fought back after having a poor start,” Smart-Gilas Serbian mentor Rajko Toroman said.
“Now we have to take a rest and then resume for the quarterfinals on Saturday (tomorrow),” added Toroman.
Smart-Gilas is at third spot in Group A behind Qatar and host Lebanon with 3-0 cards, while World Championship-bound Jordan and Syria are still winless with 0-3 records.
In Group A, Chinese Taipei and Japan are ahead (2-1), followed by Kazakhstan (2-2), Iran-B and Iraq (1-2).
Waylon Galvez, Manila Bulletin