Smart Gilas-Pilipinas squandered a 15-point third quarter lead to end its 32nd William Jones Cup bid with a 73-62 defeat to Lebanon on Tuesday at the Hsinchuang gymnasium in Hsincuang City, Taipei County.
Gilas enjoyed a 50-35 spread in the third quarter but failed to sustain its momentum against a barrage of three-pointers unleashed by the Lebanese.
Ghaleb Reda fired consecutive three-pointers to highlight the FIBA World Basketball Championship bound Lebanese squad’s 14-2 run that cut the deficit to three entering the pivotal fourth period.
Elie Estephan buried five three-pointers in the final quarter, the last of which gave Lebanon a 66-60 edge with three minutes and 20 seconds left in the game.
"Their three-point shots killed us," said Smart Gilas coach Rajko Toroman. "We played a good game in the first three quarters, but in the end, we didn’t control the rebounds. We couldn’t manage the rebounds. We had lots of opportunities to execute."
The Lebanese posted a 44-27 edge in rebounds.
The RP Team hopefuls finished fourth with an even 3-3 card since Japan is assured of the third spot regardless of the outcome of its game against the Taipei University All-Star due to the win-over-the-other rule. Japan defeated the Philippines, 84-74, on Monday.
Placing fourth improved the Philippines’ sixth place finish achieved by Powerade-Team Pilipinas in this same tournament last year.
The Toroman-mentored Gilas crew posted wins against Taipei University All-Star (83-52), Australian Townville Crocs (90-64) and Chinese Taipei (96-93, overtime).
Their losses came at the expense of defending champion Iran (68-61), Japan and Lebanon.
"We know that we are weak at positions four and five and we want to fix the problem," Toroman said, insisting that adding Talk ‘N Text forward Kelly Williams to Gilas’ lineup would definitely boost the team’s frontline.
Mac Baracael led the Nationals with 20 points, including the three-pointer in the third period that gave them Gilas the 15-point edge.
Chris Tiu added 13, while American import Marcus Douthit struggled against the tall Lebanese frontline and was held to only six points and 13 rebounds.
Estephan finished with 17 points, while one-time NBA player Jackson Vroman contributed 16 for the Lebanon, which placed second behind Iran with a 5-1 card.
Lebanon 73 – Estephan 17, Vroman 16, Reda 11, Nour 10, Pharis 7, Mahmoud 4, Fahed 3, Kanaan 3, Rustom 2, Samaha 0, Akl 0, Fakhreddine 0.
Smart-Gilas 62 – Baracael 20, Tiu 13, Casio 9, Lassiter 7, Douthit 6, Luts 3, Aguilar 2, Slaughter 2, Barroca 0.
Quarter scores: 18-19, 25-37, 49-52, 73-62.
– JVP, GMANews.TV