Monday, September 19, 2011
Lassiter and Lutz Played for Smart Gilas Pilipinas as they Defeated Jordan (video),
Buoyed by the return of previously disallowed players, the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team bucked a bad start to turn back a familiar foe in Jordan, 72-64, in the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championship in Wuhan, China.
Naturalized center Marcus Douthit bounced back after injuring his ankle in the third quarter to lead the Philippine team with 19 points and 15 rebounds, while Marcio Lassiter finally made his tournament debut with 14 points highlighted by four three-pointers.
SMART-Gilas was once again the recipient of bad news after being told by FIBA Asia officials that Filipino-American wingmen Lassiter and Chris Lutz were once again being barred from playing, mere minutes before the start of the game. This happened even though the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas was able to secure clearance from the FIBA head office for the two players to finally suit up, after missing the first round of the competition because of questions about their eligibility.
The bad tidings seemed to weigh heavily on the Filipinos, who allowed their opponents to run out to a 17-5 lead behind nine points by Jordan star point guard Sam Daghles.
SMART-Gilas was able to right the ship momentarily after springing a 2-3 zone on Jordan coupled with timely sniping for Jimmy Alapag. At the end of the first quarter, the Filipinos managed to trim the lead to a more manageable nine points, 20-11.
Meanwhile, the Philippine team also got a break off the court, after tournament officials in the arena received a phone call from FIBA advising them of the decision to allow Lassiter and Lutz to play.
“Supposedly, FIBA Asia [officials] in Wuhan claimed [that the] letter of decision from [the FIBA office in] Geneva was not clear [about the status of Lassiter and Lutz' eligibility],” said SBP executive director Sonny Barrios. “[FIBA secretary-general Patrick Baumann] called them to straighten it out.”
Lassiter and Lutz checked in to the game shortly after the phone call from FIBA. While SMART-Gilas opened the second quarter with another shaky start, the Philippine team was able to trim the lead down to five points, 31-26, at halftime as Jordan struggled because of Daghlas’ foul trouble.
The Filipinos looked visibly energized to start the second half, tying the game quickly. They had a brief scare at the 5:23 mark of the third quarter as Douthit went out of the game limping as he rolled his ankle after stepping on the foot of a Jordanian defender. He would return to the game, and SMART-Gilas took a six-point lead, 47-41, on back-to-back three-pointers by Lassiter and Alapag.
Jordan, however, bounced back with six straight points of its own to tie the game heading into the fourth quarter, 47-all.
SMART-Gilas opened the fourth quarter with a 12-4 run to take a 59-51 lead capped by Lassiter’s fourth three-pointer. But a pair of fouls on Lutz — a personal and a technical — swayed the momentum and allowed Jordan to creep back into the game. A three-pointer by Daghlas with 3:36 remaining in the game cut the Philippine lead to two points, 64-62.
The two teams exchanged baskets, and Jordan had a golden opportunity to take the lead. But Rasheim Wright missed an open three-pointer in transition with 36 seconds to go, and steady free-throw shooting by SMART-Gilas — two each from Chris Tiu and Kelly Williams — allowed the team to hold on to the victory. A reverse dunk by Williams toward the end of the game sealed the final score.
Despite the victory, the bad news may not yet be over for the Philippine team. Reports coming out of Wuhan indicate that Jordan is putting the game under protest because of Lassiter and Lutz’ performance.
Daghlas led Jordan with 18 points, but the trio of Lutz, Lassiter, and Tiu hounded him into shooting just 4-of-12 from the field, including 1-of-8 from the two-point area. Rasheim Wright had 16 points, but missed all nine of his three-point attempts, while Zaid Abbas carried the fight in the frontcourt for Jordan with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Philippines 72 - Douthit 19, Lassiter 14, Alapag 11, Tiu 9, Williams 6, de Ocampo 4, Lutz 4, Casio 3, Taulava 2, Barroca 0, Aguilar 0, Baracael 0.
Jordan 64 - Daghles 18, Wright 16, Z.Abbas 10, Abuqoura 7, I.Abbas 6, Al-Sous 5, Zaghab 2, Hussein 0.
Quarters: 11-20, 26-31, 47-47, 72-64