Gilas survives rugged UAE five
By Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) Updated January 20, 2010 12:00 AM
–Smart Gilas Pilipinas kept its cool and poise against the rugged Al Nasr of United Arab Emirates side, pulling off an emotional 79-72 victory to sustain its momentum going into the quarterfinal round of the 21st Dubai Invitational here Monday night.
Cheered on by the Filipino OFWs at the Al Ahli Indoor Stadium, the Nationals hit the big shots down the stretch to frustrate the hosts and nail their third straight win following an opening day loss to Al Jalaa of Syria.
The undermanned Filipinos, however, had to play with guts and a big fighting heart to endure the Al Nasr’s rugged plays and a spate of bad calls.
In fact, skipper Chris Tiu ended up with a busted lip and bruises on his chest and legs while JV Casio’s was badly hurt from a wayward elbow from Khalal Msebah.
“They became desperate in the second half so they resorted to doing dirty tactics,” said Tiu. “You can see that they turned physical with a lot of holding and I was even punched and elbowed at some point in the game.”
“The referees were also protecting them but that was expected playing on their home court so we just stayed focused and did our part,” he said.
UAE was awarded 27 free throws with Al Nasr making 19 while Team RP took just seven trips to the line and made five.
But the Filipino cagers kept their composure as Tiu, Mac Baracael and Casio came through with clutch triples that kept Al Nasr at bay.
“I expected this tough game from the domestic team and I also felt we showed a great heart in this tournament in the very difficult moment,” said Smart Gilas’ Serbian coach Rajko Toroman. “We didn’t lose our cool, we were focused and we made some crucial three-point shots.
“And I think it’s very important for this young team to play this kind of game because we know domestic referees will push for the domestic team and I’m very satisfied,” he said.
The win kept Smart Gilas in second in Group B behind Al Jalaa, unbeaten in three games, and ahead of Zain Jordan, which totes a 2-1 record.
The Syrians, who beat the Jamal Sampson-less Filipinos, 90-76, last Friday, and the Jordanians, bronze medalists in the 2009 FIBA-Asia clash today (1 a.m. RP time) for the top seeding.