TAIPEI – Smart Gilas II started strong and finished with a flurry as it repulsed old, familiar rival Jordan, 88-78, in the inaugurals of the 34th Jones Cup basketball competition at the Taipei PE College Gymnasium here last night.
The Nationals beat out the Jordanians in the early goings and at endgame, overcoming erratic moments while testing couples of combinations in the middle quarters.
Jordan, runner-up to China in the last FIBA Asian Championship, did practically the same, even sitting out naturalized player Rasheim Wright in the entire first quarter.
The Nationals, however, outsmarted and outplayed the Jordanians in the end and gained a share of early lead in the short one-round-robin competition among nine teams from eight countries.
Iran, the 1997 and 1999 Asian champ, and Anyang KGC, a tough South Korean club team reinforced by imports Juan Patillo and Garrett Stutz, also got off to a triumphant start, topping Lebanon and Chinese-Taipei B, respectively.
Minus 7-foot-1 main man Hamed Haddadi, the Iranians banked heavily on sleek forward Samad Bahrami and heady guard Hamed Afagh as they whipped the Lebanese, 89-74.
Lebanon, a perennial contender in the Asian stage, showed up minus longtime star Fadi El-Khatib and a host of naturalized players including Jackson Vroman. Instead, the Lebanese played with former Meralco import Jarrid Jerome Famous.
The seven-foot Stutz and Patillo combined for 30 points and nine rebounds while playing limited minutes as the running and gunning Koreans clobbered the Taiwanese, 109-83.
Marcus Douthit collected 17 points and 14 rebounds with Gary David, Jeff Chan and Larry Fonacier adding at least 10 markers each for Smart Gilas II.
National coach Chot Reyes said he was pleased with what his players showed in their very first game together.
“I’m generally pleased,” said Reyes.
“Obviously, there are still a lot to work on but we can only get better as they continue playing together. They will only figure out the nuances of our game as they play a lot more,” Reyes added.
Reyes was particularly impressed by their 52-point second-half output.
“We scored 52 points in 20 minutes despite our several free throw misses and missed layups. It could have been an easy 60-point half,” said Reyes.
The Jordanians were still in the game when Fonacier knocked in a three-pointer then Douthit slammed home a fastbreak play making it 85-76 for Smart Gilas with 44 seconds left.
Douthit asserted himself in the second half after getting two quick fouls and making only two markers in the first half.
Philippines 88 – Douthit 17, David 13, Chan 11, Fonacier 10, De Ocampo 8, Norwood 7, Villaneuva 7, Mercado 6, Tenorio 4, Thoss 4, Ganuelas 0, Baracael 0.
Jordan 78 – Wright 24, Hussein 17, Abdeen 14, Ruqayah 10, Aldwairi 4, Alhamarsheh 3, Zaghab 2, Alnajjar 0, Al Hait 0.
Quarterscores: 25-16, 36-39, 66-54, 88-78