Filed Under: Basketball, Smart Gilas Pilipinas, Chris Tiu, Asi Taulava, Fiba Asia Stankovic
THE SMART Gilas Pilipinas five bounced back from an opening-day setback by whipping Syria, 81-67, Sunday night in the Fiba Asia Stankovic Cup in Beirut, Lebanon.
Skipper Chris Tiu and man-mountain Asi Taulava combined took turns sparking the RP five from a 35-40 deficit to an impressive runaway victory.
Tiu came through with nine of his 14 points in the third, including a pair of triples, that allowed the Filipinos to sit on a 63-53 cushion entering the final period.
Taulava, the 6-foot-9 bruiser, controlled the shaded area and unloaded 16 points on top of 19 rebounds and two blocks.
Taulava, who was loaned by the Coca-Cola Tigers and the PBA to the national team, amply filled the void left by naturalization candidate Marcus Douthit and seven-footer Greg Slaughter.
“He’s exactly what we need for Smart Gilas,” said Smart Gilas team manager Frankie Lim, referring to the Fil-Tongan who played for three PBA-powered national teams before joining Gilas.
Smart Gilas earlier got a rude welcome from host Lebanon, which delivered 10 three-pointers in a 74-59 victory Saturday.
Co-team captain Mark Barroca scattered 16 points against Syria and power forward Mac Baracael added 11.
Japeth Aguilar, playing despite a nasty cut on his left leg from a freak accident recently, contributed six points, four blocks, three rebounds and two assists.
It was the second straight defeat for the Syrians, who earlier dropped an 83-75 decision to Qatar, whose core is made up of naturalized Africans.
Up next for the Nationals are the defending champion Jordanians, who also lost to Qatar and have a score to settle against Smart Gilas.
Jordan lost to Smart Gilas in the title game of a pocket tournament held in Manila two months ago.
In Group A, Asian champion Iran slipped past Japan, 72-68, for its first win while Chinese Taipei pulled off an 80-64 victory over Kazakhstan.