Basketball Smart Gilas Pilipinas Conquered Chinese Taipei Hailed

MARCUS Douthit (right) and Sol Mercado will play pivotal roles when Smart Gilas plays the US today. PBA.COM

TAIWAN– Philippine Basketball' Smart Gilas conquered Chinese Taipei in its home floor in a follow-up to its upset of Iran the last night, assuring itself of a tie at the top at the close of the 34th William Jones Cup at the TPEC Gymnasium.

Philippines' Team up against a talented enemy in very hostile territory, Smart Gilas-Pilipinas got an unlikely lift from the smallest man on the floor and moved within another win of ruling the Jones Cup basketball championship.

LA Tenorio, a 5-foot-8 guard who's struggled in this tournament big time, hit all 11 of his points in the fourth quarter and powered the Filipinos to a 76-72 victory over Taipei-A on Saturday before a raucous hometown crowd at the Taipei Physical Education College gym here.

 Tenorio, who has been bullied around in past games by taller, beefier guards, hit three triples in succession in the early part of the fourth period to give the Philippines the buffer it needed to cushion a hard Taiwanese finish.

 The Filipinos, who were together as a team for less than a month, rose to 6-1 with the victory and would need to upset the United States today in order to win the championship without any complications.

 Taipei bowed out of the title hunt after dropping to 4-3.

A firm handshake from a South Korean coach and some glowing words from members of Lebanon and United States squads clearly mirrored the respect earned by Philippine' Smart Gilas II after sending erstwhile unbeaten Iran crashing back to earth in the William Jones Cup Friday (August 24, 2012) in Taipei, Taiwan .

After steering Philippines' Gilas to a 77-75 win over the defending champions, coach Chot Reyes was met by Sang Beom Lee, the Korean coach, in the corridor leading to the media room to shake his hand.

Asian power Iran lost for a second straight night and the US team suffered a second upset as they fell to joint second place with Korea at 5-2, a game behind the Philippines.

Sweet-shooting forward Elie Stephan strung up nine triples and a total of 27 points while Jarrid Famous tossed in 17 markers and grabbed 12 rebounds as Lebanon stunned the US five, 70-67.

Korea, meanwhile, pounced on a weary Iran team for an 82-73 victory.

The Filipinos wrap up the championship without any complication if they beat the Americans in their game.

Iran plays Jordan and Korea takes on Chinese Taipei in the other key matches.

"At least with this win, we have our fate in our hands. We have had a good tournament so far, and we have to make it a great tournament tomorrow (today)," said coach Chot Reyes whose team is a win away from handing the country a first Jones Cup crown in 14 years.

"Obviously, the game against the US is for the championship, for all the marbles. The US team is tall, quick and very athletic. We need to find a way to stay with them," Reyes also said.

The Americans catch up with the Filipinos if they win, and any tie will be resolved by the quotient tiebreak system. Iran and Korea are the other teams that can still tie the Philippines.

Tenorio had his breakout game and emerged Gilas' man of the moment as he fired away three straight treys and scored a total of 11 points in the fourth quarter.

The Taiwanese had seized the momentum in the tight, exciting game, wiping away a seven-point deficit when Tenorio came through with his heroics disappointing the cheering home crowd.

Chan took charge earlier, knocking in four triples and a total of 14 markers as the Nationals sat on a 37-29 cushion at the half.

"I thought Taipei did a good job covering our shooters. But in doing that they gave up something and that's LA (Tenorio)," said Reyes.

The two teams actually engaged in a shootout with the Philippines going 11-of-26 from the three-point area as against Taipei's 10-of-27 clip.

The Taiwanese put up a tough fight with their constant motion offense and crisp shooting.

They had no answer on Tenorio in the end though.

Praises for Smart Gilas Pilipinas

Taiwan Local sportswriters had nothing but good words for the Filipinos. "That's the real Smart Gilas II squad. Very smart and very good," said one scribe.

In a complete turnaround from a team that was beaten, 92-71, by Lebanon the day before, the Nationals played with fire and passion with Marcus Douthit providing the power underneath and Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan striking from outside.

Lebanese coach Ghassan Sarkis was not surprised with the result.

"I'm happy for your team for beating Iran. I know how good your team, you have a good coach and very smart players," said Sarkis.

While Gilas got raves from almost everybody, Iran was not impressed.

Leading scorer Samad Bahrami criticized the referees for their inconsistent calls, insinuating that the Filipinos got special treatment.

"The winner of this game is not true. We beat Lebanon by a big margin and Lebanon also beat them by a big margin, so there's a big difference," Bahrami said.

Iranian coach Mostafa Hashemi butted in: "We lost to ourselves."

Iran's arrogance did not sit well with some Lebanese officials.

"We also once beat them and they complained a lot. They think they're more superior and unbeatable. Some of their players were arrogant," one Lebanese player said.

The Iranians have gotten the ire of the crowd for their repeated complaints against officiating.

Meantime, Americans Gerard Anderson and Jermaine Dearman expect a close and exciting showdown with the Nationals when they clash today in what could be the championship match for the Gilas – granting it won over Taiwan A last night.

"It's going to be a good game, we played almost the same basketball only that they (Gilas) make a lot of kick outs while we finish it driving," said Anderson, who expressed willingness to play in the PBA someday. "Your team is very impressive."

Gilas is locked in a three-way tie for the lead with Iran and US at 5-1 with still two games left for all three teams.

To win the championship, Gilas must beat Taiwan A and US.

The Scores:

SMART GILAS-PILIPINAS 76 – Chan 14, Douthit 14, Tenorio 11, De Ocampo 11, Norwood 10, Fonacier 5, David 5, Mercado 4, Thoss 2.

TAIPEI-A 72 – Wen 18, Tsung 16, Chai 11, Lei 9, Hsueh 8, Cheng 5, Shih 3, Tai 2, Hsin 0, Chih 0, Yi 0.

Quarters: 16-all, 37-29, 54-56, 76-72

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