FAILED MISSION: JORDAN SLAMS OLYMPIC DOOR ON TEAM RP
TOKUSHIMA, JAPAN, JULY 31, 2007 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Add four more years to the long Olympic exile for Team Philippines.
The SMC-RP quintet failed in its mission as it succumbed to Jordan, 76-84, in their knockout game in the FIBA-Asia men’s championship preliminary round at Asty Tokushima here last night.
That ended the country’s bid to get into Olympic proper where it last competed 35 years ago in 1972 Munich Games.
The Nationals got off to a strong start and played steadily up to the third quarter before fading away, their Olympic quest vanishing into thin Tokushima air.
Placing third behind Iran and Jordan in the highly competitive Group A, the Philippines was relegated to the consolation round where the best finish it can get is ninth overall.
The Nationals play the Syrians at 9 a.m. today.
The RP 5’s bid went into the dustbin as the Nationals floundered in the fourth quarter, falling behind by 14, 55-69, with the Jordanians making a decisive 15-4 run.
The Nationals waged a desperate battle to salvage the game, rifling in five three-pointers in the last two minutes, but the Jordanians worked on the clock to ensure the win.
“They made more shots than we did at crunch time,” said RP team coach Chot Reyes.
“I took full responsibility with the loss. I personally picked the players and the coaching staff. We made the best possible preparation. If we didn’t land in the toughest group in this competition, maybe we could have made the next round,” Reyes added.
Reyes cited two setbacks which told heavily on their bid. “We failed to survive the tough draw and the technical foul called by the Greek referee in our game against Iran,” he said.
Against the Jordanians, the Nationals proved not up to the task against guards Rasheim Wright and Sam Daghles and big man Zaid Alkhas, who all scored at least 16 points.
Another forward Eslamn Abbaas came to the fore in the fourth quarter, sparking the vicious Jordan run that sent them to the quarterfinals joining Japan, Kazakhstan and Korea in Group II.
Iran, Lebanon, Qatar and Chinese Taipei landed in Group I. The eight quarterfinalists play one round in each group with the best two from the two brackets advancing to the crossover semifinal round.
The Philippines heads its consolation round group also including Kuwait and India. The Nationals play theIndians at 9 a.m. tomorrow and the Kuwait is also at 9 a.m. Thursday.
“We’ll continue playing however difficult it may seem.
To be honest, I have no idea what to do. We prepared ourselves for the quarterfinals,” said Reyes.
For the first time in three games, the Philippines was up at halftime, 35-33, leading by nine points twice early in the second period.
The Nationals came out strong, taking control of the game until the Jordanians made a seven-to-nothing run to pull even at 31-all.
Earlier, Qatar and South Korea completed three-game sweeps in their respective groups with the former repulsing Kazakhstan, 76-69 and the latter subduing Syria, 89-79.
Despite the loss, Kazakhstan, however, made it to the quarterfinals as second qualifier from Group C with a 2-1 win-loss record.
Chinese Taipei joined South Korea as quarterfinalists from Group D as the Taiwanese crushed Hong Kong, 98-81.
Lebanon bounced back from a 67-77 loss to Japan Sunday with a 106-64 rout of United Arab Emirates for the second quarters slot in Group B.
Indonesia outlasted India, 72-66, in a non-bearing contest in Group C.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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