MANILA, Philippines - Smart Gilas Pilipinas came charging in the dying minutes and stunned World Championship-bound Jordan, 91-80, to top the 2010 Smart Philippine Invitational Challenge, also known as the MVP Cup, at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium Sunday night.
Mac Baracael played a near flawless game as he spewed 22 points, including four triples while JV Casio came through with 12 of his 15 points in the final two minutes to break a 77-all deadlock and the hearts of the Jordanians, who will see action in the FIBA World Championship this August in Turkey.
“I’m satisfied with the win and I feel happy winning it for the Filipino people,” said Smart Gilas coach Rajko Toroman, who drew level with Mario Palma and the Jordanians following a 75-83 loss Friday.
Marcus Douthit struggled in this game as he finished with 10 points on a woeful four-of-12 shooting. He turned the ball six times a few days after averaging 22 points including a 26-point effort against China’s Dongguan in a 74-64 win Thursday. He fouled out with less than two minutes to go.
This, however, may not prevent Toroman from recommending him as Smart Gilas’ naturalized player for this November’s 16th Guangzhou Asian Games and the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championship in Lebanon.
“I will recommend him when we meet tomorrow (Monday),” said Toroman of the 6’10” former Providence standout and Russian League veteran.
Filipino-American Greg Slaughter made a good account of himself in the absence of Douthit as he had a key block, a rebound and a basket to help in the cause.
But the day belonged to Baracael, who finally came out of a slump with a spectacular effort reminiscent of his mighty performance in last January’s import-laced Dubai Invitational where the Nationals finished a strong third.
Casio also had a clutch game despite being sidelined for a couple of months because of a knee injury.
“I’m happy for Mac because he really struggled in the last month and a half, he played like this in Dubai,” said Toroman. “As for JV, he’s back in his old form even though he’s just back from injury.”
Earlier, Talk N’ Text repeated over Dongguan of China, 85-73, in a game that was tarnished by Mark Cardona punching American import Ronald Allen late in the game.
The incident was triggered after Allen fouled hard the driving Cardona on a fast break play.
After a verbal confrontation, Cardona came out of nowhere and punched Allen on the face, resulting in his ejection and triggering a bench-clearing incident and a near brawl between the two squads.
After cooler heads prevailed, an agitated Allen was also tossed out for his fighting posture and was led to their dugout.
A few minutes later, Allen came out of the locker room and charged into the court to pick up a fight against the Tropang Texters.
Talk N’ Text coach Chot Reyes, who coached the all-pro team that crashed out of the quarterfinals in the 2007 FIBA-Asia Championship in Tokushima, Japan, was seen responding to Ronald’s challenge with his team behind him before several Smart Gilas players, some SBP officials and policemen who were there prevented the situation from getting out of hand.
It was a sad ending to a tournament dedicated to basketball chief Manny V. Pangilinan and was supposed to be a friendly tournament among the host country and visiting teams from China and Jordan.