Playmaker Rony Fahed buried five of Lebanon’s 10-three pointers as the host country got off to a confident start in Group B action of the tournament, which offers three automatic seats to the 2011 Fiba Asia Championship.
Fahed finished with 23 points as he duplicated the fiery showing of Elie Estephan, who drilled home five straight threes in a come-from-behind winning effort against the Filipinos in the William Jones Cup in Taipei last month.
Lebanese-Canadian Ali Mahmoud and Ghaleb Reda came up with 12 points each to make up for the inefficiency in the paint Jackson Vroman and Fadi El Khatib.
Asi Taulava held the high-scoring Vroman, a 6-foot-10 naturalized Lebanese who once played in the NBA, to just seven points while scoring seven points himself on top of eight rebounds, two steals and an assist in 32 minutes.
The 6-foot-9 Taulava was loaned by the Coca-Cola Tigers and the PBA to the national team to fill the spot of naturalization candidate Marcus Douthit, who has yet to secure his Philippine passport.
JV Casio paced Smart Gilas with 15 points and Mac Baracael added 14 for the Filipinos, whose foul woes the Lebanese exploited by getting 18 points from the free throw line.
Aside from team captain Chris Tiu and Casio, guards Mark Barroca and Marcio Lassiter, the team’s best wing defender, also fouled out.
Fahed’s 17 points, highlighted by back-to-back triples in the first half, put the Lebanese in control.
Smart Gilas came within nine points, 40-51, in the third period but a series of turnovers and coach Rajko Toroman’s foul-saddled rotation just couldn’t sustain the effort.
El Khatib, Lebanon’s basketball hero, came out of retirement to score four points, grab six rebounds, issue three assists and get a steal and a block for the Fiba World Championship-bound victors.
Smart Gilas was playing Syria at presstime. The Filipinos take on defending champion Jordan tonight before closing their elimination-round stint against Qatar tomorrow.
LEBANON 74—Fahed 23, Reda 12, Mahmoud 12, Fakhreddine 7, Vroman 7, Estephan 5, El Khatib 4, Rustom 2, Samaha 2, El Nour 0, Kanaan 0.
PHILIPPINES 59—Casio 15, Baracael 14, Ababou 8, Taulava 7, Barroca 7, Lassiter 6, Tiu 2, Ballesteros 0.
Quarters: 18-11, 31-20, 51-40, 74-59