TAIPEI, TAIWAN, August 1, 2005 
(STAR) RP-San Miguel fought hard against Passing Lane-US last night, dropping a close 96-99 decision to bow out of the 27th Jones Cup in style. The Filipinos earned the respect of the boisterous Taiwanese crowd, almost erasing a 21-point third quarter deficit against the tall and shifty Americans to wind up their stint at 6-3 at the Taipei Physical Education College gym here. The Americans, who won the championship as early as Saturday night after the Filipinos lost to Taiwanese in a classic game, finished undefeated in nine games but undoubtedly worked hard for their last win.

Down 59-80 in the third, the Filipinos dug deep in their collective resolve to get back in the fight in the final 5:46 after Jondan Salvador capped a 23-4 run with a layup for 82-84. At 91-92 after a Taulava short stab, the Philippines had a chance to take the lead. But the Talk n Text center overshot a streaking Salvador for a turnover which led to a turnaround jumper by Marcus Douhthit on the other end. Taulava also missed the chance to shove the Philippines closer after drawing the last foul of Reggie Okosa with 1:09 left, splitting his free throws for 92-94.

The crowd rooted for the Americans, who played above-the-rim basketball and hit shots from afar. But the fighting heart the Filipinos played with was later on appreciated by the Taiwanese, who applauded the RP Team that bowed at center court after the game. The game was halted for a while Douhthit and Kerby Raymundo came to blows at the 6:11 mark of the third. Raymundo was whistled for an offensive foul and gave a second motion that had the American retaliating. Shifty guard Terrance Johnson scored 29 of his 33 points in the first three periods and the Philippines was only able to move close after Dennis Miranda put the cuffs of the Americans starting guard. Douhthit was good for 21 markers. The RP Team flies back home at 9:30 today before taking a short rest and resuming practice to participate in the Sultan’s Cup in Brunei where it will play against teams from China, Korea and Japan.

Jones Cup: No excuses from Chot By Joaquin Henson The Philippine Star 08/01/2005

It was the game that mattered most to the Philippines but a win was not meant to be. Last Saturday, the Philippine national basketball team lost an 82-76 decision to Chinese-Taipei to render its ninth and final assignment against Passing Lane Sports of the US last night an academic exercise in the 10-team Jones Cup in Taiwan. (See story above)

A win over the hosts would’ve sent the Philippines into a winner-take-all showdown against Passing Lane for the championship.

But the Taiwanese refused to give the Philippines the opportunity to win its fourth Jones Cup title after victories in 1981, 1985 and 1998.

Center Tsun Wien Din shot 10-of-10 from the field and 7-of-8 from the line to power Chinese-Taipei to the close win over the Philippines. The 6-8 Tsun also compiled 10 rebounds, five assists and six blocked shots, including a swat of Asi Taulava’s layup to seal the deal with less than 30 ticks left. Chinese-Taipei got off to a hot start, roaring to a 23-9 lead fueled by six triples. The Philippines was down by 11 at the end of the first period but trimmed the gap to seven with 8:48 to go in the second quarter then to three, 31-28, with 6:30 left in the half. Chinese-Taipei led, 45-42, at the turn.

Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) commissioner Noli Eala, watching at courtside, texted a commentary as the teams repaired to the dugout: "We’re down by three at the half. Team seems intimidated by the crowd. Refs obviously helping Chinese. But boys are fighting."

The next text delivered the sad news.

"We are not lucky today," said ABC-TV Sports’ Sienna Olaso. "Chinese-Taipei wins against the Philippines, 82-76."

Eala was disconsolate but proud of the team’s effort. His text read: "We lost by six to Taipei. We cut a 15-point lead to two with a minute remaining but Taipei hit a three-point shot. Refs helped Chinese as well. But the boys did us proud. We were well-disciplined and never lost their cool."

After a few minutes, a text came from national coach Chot Reyes.

"Lost to Taiwan, 82-76, in a hard-fought game. Sorry."

Reyes later sent a more elaborate text.

"(Officiating) was very one-sided, as expected," he said. "But I will never use it as an excuse. Best to ask Comish and (PBA technical manager) Perry (Martinez). We weren’t intimidated but they were super-energized by their crowd, hitting six three-pointers in the first quarter. That was the difference as we bear them the rest of the way. Players feel really bad until now. Our challenge is to get them ready for the US in our last game."

The Philippine team returns home from Taipei at noon today.

Taulava carried the load for the Philippines against Chinese-Taipei, scoring 27 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Dondon Hontiveros contributed 15 points and Jay-Jay Helterbrand chipped in 11 with nine rebounds. The loss sent the Philippines tumbling to a tie for second with Taiwan and Qatar, each toting identical 6-2 records.

The Philippines’ first loss was an 80-76 setback to Australia. Taking the youthful Australian Institute of Sports trainees lightly, the Philippines lapsed into 24 errors. Basketball website writer Chris Wang said "the Philippines’ head was never in the game until the final five minutes."

Australia’s Steve Weigh buried a triple with 35.4 seconds left to clinch the victory. Wang described the Philippines’ first loss after four straight wins "a shock." In contrast, Australia won its first game after four consecutive losses. Reyes’ curt commentary on the defeat was "We deserved it."

"They just outworked us," he continued. "Dennis (Miranda) and Jondan (Salvador) played well but not having Brandon (Cablay) told heavily on our bench scoring. Fatigue finally caught up. We had 24 turnovers versus their 40-minute press. Dennis and Jondan arrived at 3 for the 4 p.m. game but no excuses. I don’t think I prepared them well enough mentally."

Taiwan, playing without four national cagers, posted the tournament’s biggest upset when the hosts shocked Samara of Russia, 68-66, last July 27. The Russians missed two treys in the last eight seconds.

Wang said Taiwan beat Russia "with a little help from the refs and (the) red-hot shooting of Chang Chih-feng and Yang Yu-min."

A Filipino witness to the highway robbery texted: "Garapalan dito. Taiwan beat Russia by two. They never entered penalty. Worse, Taiwan’s No. 7 was fouled in the closing seconds and as the ref was giving him the ball for his free throws, the table official said it should be No. 12, Taiwan’s best shooter, shooting. He was nowhere near the play when the foul was called."

The Philippines’ masterful 91-78 conquest of Russia was described by Reyes as the team’s best showing in the nine-day meet. The Filipinos were up by 19 at the half and never looked back. Hontiveros tallied 19 points to lead the Philippines’ attack. Kelly Williams netted 12 points and hauled in six boards. Cablay and Romel Adducul scored 10 apiece. Filipino cager Willie Miller played only two games in the tournament before flying back home with a dislocated right ankle. He had seven points, five rebounds and five assists in the Philippines’ first win at Qatar’s expense. Cablay strained his right calf muscle and sat out the games against Australia and Japan.

Five of Reyes’ players saw action in five games in five days at the Global Hoops Summit in Las Vegas then flew directly to Taipei for the Jones Cup. That meant Adducul, Helterbrand, Kerby Raymundo, Williams and de la Cruz played 14 games in 16 days crossing an international dateline in the process. Hontiveros missed a game in Las Vegas so he played 13 games in 16 days.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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