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Old 01-06-2010, 01:28 PM
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Post RP five beats Saudis in overtime

RP five beats Saudis in overtime

By WAYLON GALVEZ
May 31, 2010, 6:58pm


DOHA, Qatar — The Smart-Gilas national team, having failed to match its fifth place finish last year, ended its campaign on a relatively high note Sunday by beating an inspired Al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia in overtime to snatch seventh place in the 21st FIBA-Asia Champions Cup.


The score was 100-95 as the Filipinos, whose campaign can be best described as almost disastrous, scored just its second win in seven games in the 10-nation tournament which became a showcase of Middle East basketball muscle flexing.


The Smart-Gilas team, more than two years since its birth and having spent millions, had hoped to use the tournament as window to its progress.


But the team was completely outplayed by taller, faster and bigger rivals who also employed better and more talented imports.


Despite its mediocre results, Smart-Gilas Serbia coach Rajko Toroman was satisfied with the overall performance of the team.


“We’re struggling in some part of the games. But we have great games against Lebanon and Iran,” Toroman said.

Mark Barroca, who sustained a cut on his left eyebrow in quarterfinals against Al Riyadi of Lebanon, scored a team-high 24 points, while his backcourt tandem Chris Tiu added 18 points, six assists and three steals despite playing with a bruised left leg.


“I think that we’re emotionally empty, we are tired. I was more satisfied how we played than the results,” said Toroman whose goal at the start of the tournament was for the team to make the Final Four.


The other win of the Nationals was a 76-74 triumph over Duhok-Iran at the end of preliminary rounds, a win that pushed Smart-Gilas to the quarterfinals after losing its first three games against Al Rayyan of host Qatar (86-58), Astana Tigers of Kazakhstan (77-71) and eventual champion Mahran-Iran (86-72).


The Nationals lost to Al Riyadi-Lebanon in the quarterfinals (74-63), and to Al Jalaa-Syria (83-81) to miss a chance of tying its fifth place finish in this same tournament last year in Jakarta, Indonesia.


Toroman, however, stressed that the Nationals have a great chance to improve as a team.


“This moment, Qatar, Iran, Lebanon... and maybe Jordan are a little bit better than us. I said before this tournament that we have to survive, because we’re coming in not ready.

Three outside players JV Casio, Marcio Lassiter, and JR Cawaling we’re not in the team,” he added.


Casio and Cawaling were with the team here, but the two are recovering from knee injuries. The Fil-Am Lassiter, on the other hand, suffered an ankle injury when the team trained in the United States.


Also, there’s Fil-Am Chris Lutz, who joined the team for the first time in an actual competition. After struggling in the first six games as he tried to adjust to Toroman’s system, the 6-foot-3 guard from Marshall University showed his potential against Al Hilal.


Smart-Gilas, according to Toroman, needs to improve at the power forward and center positions, and he’s hoping that the 6-foot-7 Kelly Williams will be allowed by the PBA to join the national team and that they find the right import who is willing to become a naturalized Filipino citizen.


Toroman said that the Champions Cup, which allowed two imports, is somehow a warning for the national team that other teams are preparing for the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China in November and the FIBA-Asia Championship next year, the qualifying event for the 2012 London Olympics.


“Everybody is preparing well, I think that must be a warning for us. We have to work harder, play harder,” Toroman said.

Meantime, Mahram-Iran defended its title as it downed Al Rayyan of host Qatar, 93-73. Al Riyadi-Lebanon, on the other hand, finished third by beating ASU-Jordan, 82-78, while Kazakhstan’s Astana Tigers placed fifth following a win over Al Jalaa-Syria, 75-68. UAE finished ninth and Iraq 10th.


Smart-Gilas 100 — Barroca 24, Tiu 18, Ramos 14, Ababou 12, Vucicevic 12, Baracael 9, Lutz 6, Aguilar 3, Slaughter 2.


Al Hilal 95 — Johnson 37, Crump 25, Almohammed 14, Alzawad 6, Aldosari A.4, Aldawsari 3, Alsager 3, Samater 2, Aldosari Y. 1.


Quarters: 14-20, 41-47, 65-66, 86-86, 100-95 (OT).
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