MANILA, Philippines — The Smart-Gilas national team proved too much for Japan-Hamamatsu Phoenix, scoring a runaway 88-72 win at the start of the 4th Asian Basketball Association Club Championship on Wednesday in Haining, China.
American import Marcus Douthit, a candidate for naturalization, led the Nationals by finishing in double-double with 21 points and 13 rebounds.
Back-up guard JV Casio also shone as he contributed 16 points, five assists and three steals.
“It’s a good start, hope the team could sustain its good showing,” said Smart-Gilas team manager Frankie Lim said in a text message moments after the team won against the reigning champion of the Japanese BJ League.
Smart-Gilas took a 24-19 lead after the first quarter but Japan rallied back to grab a 37-38 advantage at halftime break.
The 6-foot-10 Douthit then took over as he bulldozed his way inside the shaded lane, while Casio, a wily 5-foot-10 guard, orchestrated the team’s run-and-gun offense, which allowed them to regain the lead at 62-55 entering the final frame.
The national team is without Fil-Am guard Marcio Lassiter, who is still recovering from a knee injury in the United States.
Smart-Gilas Pilipinas is using the tournament as part of its final preparations for the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China set November 12 to 27.
Waylon Galvez, Manila Bulletin