Sunday, May 29, 2011

Go Gilas in FIBA-Asia Champions Cup

The 22nd FIBA-Asia Champions Cup started yesterday at the Philsports Arena. Caught second half of the Mahram-Iran vs Al Jala'a-Syria game and my first impression: Mahram-Iran has a mammoth frontline! Mahram bigs were dunking all over Al Jala'a import and former NBA veteran Samaki Walker. Mahram won by 27 points.

In the main event, Smart Gilas displayed fluid efficiency in beating Al-Ittihad KSA, 101-69. Great to see Chris Tiu, JV Casio and Marcio Lassiter showing renewed confidence. Best player of the game was deservedly Japeth Aguilar. Japeth sank midrange jumper and threw down alley-oop slam dunks to punctuate Gilas' domination over Al-Ittihad. Japeth shot an incredible 10/11 from the field. In contrast, Dondon Hontiveros, in his debut for Gilas, shot 1 out of 11. But Dondon looked comfortable running with Gilas on the floor and going with their plays. He certainly gives Gilas' second unit more experience and more court savvy.

In the nightcap, Al Riyadi-Lebanon easily defeated Al Shabab-UAE behind stellar games from Lebanon stars Fadi El Khatib and Jean Abd El Nour. El-Khatib scored 29 while Abd El Nour added 24. During player introductions, Pinoy fans in the venue showered El Khatib with generous applause. We've been watching him make basketball look so easy these past years and it's hard not to appreciate how El Khatib plays the game. Just like how I still admire Korean super-shooter Hur Jae to this day. Just like how old-timers still revere Korean legend Shin Dong Pa.

Jimmy Alapag, who has yet to suit up for Gilas but sat with the team on the bench, even approached the Al Riyadi bench to say hello to El Khatib, Abd El Nour and other veterans. The guys exchanged hugs and greetings.

El Khatib was looking for Alapag during the 2009 Jones Cup in Taipei and was surprised not to see Alapag with the Philippine team then. That's not bromance. That's just respect.

Gilas faces KL Dragons-Malaysia today (Sunday) 6pm, then meets Duhok-Iraq on Tuesday 6pm, then battles ASU-Jordan on Wednesday 8pm before the tournament takes a break on Thursday. All games are at the Philsports Arena. All Gilas games will be aired live on Sports5-IBC13.

For more information, check out MH

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