TAIPEI, JULY 6, 2007
(STAR) By Nelson Beltran - The SMC-RP team redeemed itself from sorry losses to Lebanon and Japan, playing tough throughout to whip South Korea, 88-84, in the 29th William Jones Cup at the Hsinchuang Stadium here last night.

The Nationals overcame gnawing pressure at endgame this time for the win that served as morale-boost for their all-important match against Jordan today .

(Related story on Page 18)

“Going here, we’re thinking of the long run. But after the two losses, we really think of winning this game,” said RP team coach Chot Reyes.

“We finally won a close game after blowing away two close battles. I’m proud of how the boys put those losses behind them,” Reyes added.

The RP team finally gets to test the mettle of Jordan in their 3:30 p.m. tiff today.

Jordan, groupmate of the Philippines in the Tokushima Olympic qualifier, is riding the momentum of back-to-back wins over Chinese Taipei and the Athletes in Action of the USA.

The Jordanians duplicated the feat of the Filipinos against the Americans, pulling off a 69-66 upset earlier in the day.

“Our adrenalin and momentum should carry us. But Jordan’s confidence should be high with their win against the US. Both teams could come out strong for a great game,” said Reyes.

“We’re not yet in shape but we’re getting better. But I don’t think the result is important. Our objective is Japan,” said Jordan coach Mario Palma.

“The Philippines may have the edge. The team is strong, quick and has great shooters. But sometimes, defense outshines a good team,” said Palma.

Asi Taulava, Jayjay Helterbrand and Gabe Norwood combined for a decisive five-to-nothing run in the closing seconds, and the Nationals survived the Koreans in a fierce battle marked by six deadlocks and 12 lead changes.

The Koreans were breathing down their neck at 82-83 before the Nationals came through with the searing attack capped by a two-handed jam by Norwood making it 88-82 with only 10.3 seconds left to play.

The Nationals played a balanced game with Mark Caguioa, Dondon Hontiveros and Norwood submitting 12 points or more in the close contest.

Taulava scored only seven points but played a key role in defending well against Korean 7-foot-4 behemoth Seung-jin Ha.

The RP shooters, meanwhile, matched the Koreans’ 9-of-22 shooting from the three-point area. Jimmy Alapag, Hontiveros and Norwood accounted for two treys apiece.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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