JONES CUP INT'L:  IN  TAIWAN  SMC-RP 5  SIZZLES  IN  DEBUT,  THWARTS  USA

TAIWAN, JULY 3, 2007
(STAR) Jimmy Alapag dished out a near-flawless game while Mark Caguioa came through with clutch shots as San Miguel-Philippines stunned defending champion Athletes in Action of the US, 72-67, at the start of the Jones Cup international basketball tournament at the Sinjhuang Stadium in Taipei County here last night.

Trailing by five, 52-57, going into the last 5:14 of the contest, Team Pilipinas called on the spitfirish Alapag and Mick Pennisi, who sparked an initial 8-0 run with back-to-back triples, before Kerby Raymundo scored on a twisting lay-up to shove the Filipinos ahead, 60-57.

After Reed Rawling countered for the Americans, Alapag rifled in his third triple of the match and then Caguioa finally got going by scoring the last nine points, including a slashing drive before knocking down a shot-clocking beating jumper from way out to seal the victory for the RP team.

“Jimmy bailed us out big-time and Mark finished the job for us,” said national team coach Vinent “Chot” Reyes.

Alapag finished with a game-high 19 points.

It was indeed a big comeback for SMC-Pilipinas, which led majority of the first half but sputtered in the third where it was held to just six points as the US team seized control.

But the gutsy Filipinos came up with clutch hits and kept the game close before Alapag and Caguioa conspired in a big RP team windup for the victory.

The win should send shock waves not only to the Americans but also to the rest of the nine-team field seeing action in the 10-day event. It also augurs well for the Filipinos’ campaign in the event serving as the first of their last two tournaments before the Olympic qualifying in Tokushima, Japan later this month.

It also gives SMC-Pilipinas the momentum when it plays Lebano today at the resumption of action in the nine-day tournament featuring the teams the Philippines would be playing in the Tokushima qualifier.

SMC- Pilipinas put together a 12-0 run ending the second quarter to build a 39-31 lead at the turn.

But the Filipinos were held to only six points on three free throws and a three-point shot by Dondon Hontiveros in the third period as the Ameicans started to dominate and seize the upperhand, 46-45.

In the other opening day matches, Korea nipped Qatar, 70-69; Jordan won over Kazakhstan, 63-61; and Lebanon beat Iran, 80-71.

Lebanon and San Miguel-Pilipinas mix it up at 5:30 p.m. with the Nationals seeking a second straight win and tournament leadership.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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