[PHOTO AT LEFT - James Yap tries to wrest the ball from Qatari Ali Saad as teammate Arwind Santos looks on. TIANJIN]

MANILA, AUGUST 16, 2009 (PHILIPPINE STAR) By Nelson Beltran -  Crestfallen Powerade Team Pilipinas failed to recover from its heart-breaking loss to Jordan Friday, hardly playing with energy and enthusiasm as it suffered another defeat, this time to Qatar in the penultimate playdate of the 25th FIBA-Asia Championship here yesterday.

Coming out flat, the Nationals were badly beaten by the Qataris, 65-83, in a battle for a shot at fifth place and a possible invitation for the World Championship final wild card qualifier.

So, forget the 2010 World Championship in Turkey.

Reigning champion Iran clinched the first of three WC slots being disputed here in upending Jordan, 77-75, in their semifinal match.

China and Lebanon were to play in the other semis tiff later in the night.

With the loss, Powerade-RP was relegated to fight for seventh place with the loser of the Korea-Chinese Taipei match.

Willie Miller, easily the most consistent among the Nationals from the SEABA championship, is out with a groin injury.

“This is undoubtedly our worst game,” said coach Yeng Guiao of the loss preventing the Nationals from surpassing the country’s seventh-place finish in Kobe, Japan in 1991.

“What’s very disappointing was that we didn’t play with any spirit. The defense we showed was just awful. We didn’t resist the onslaught of the Qatar offense. We know they’re bigger and stronger. We didn’t offer any resistance to that,” Guiao added.

Guiao was hoping the Nationals also felt bad with the loss and get the urge to salvage whatever is left to achieve here.

“For whatever it’s worth, I want to win tomorrow,” said Guiao.

The Qataris, led by do-it-all two-guard Saad Abdulraham Ali and sweet-shooting forward Mohammed Saleem Abdulla, led from start to finish in their lopsided win over the Filipinos.

Ali fired three treys and a total of 23 points while Abdulla came through with 12 rebounds and 11 points as Qatar clinched a return stint in the FIBA Asia Final Four.

Qatar coach Ali Ahmad Fakhroo has his sympathies for the Filipinos.

“Don’t go hard against the Philippines. This is just a qualifying game for them. This means nothing to them. There’s no ambition, no goals. You know what I mean?” he said.

“My defense is always there even against China. Our problem was offense. Now that the pressure is off, it finally showed. They’re disciplined and are trying to do their best.”

But Guiao couldn’t be appeased, keeping the team in a huddle for over an hour before getting out of the dugout.

“It’s really disappointing because as tall and as athletic Qataris are, I thought they’re beatable. Offensively, we shot poorly from the three-point area. But we just have to rely on defense. Three-point shooting is only secondary factor. Primary factor is always to find a way to stop our opponent,” Guiao said.

The Nationals, however, were simply pathetic on both ends of the court.

The Qataris outrebounded the Nationals, 54-38, and shot much better from anywhere.

The Filipinos were 8-of-41 from the three-point area and 7-of-14 from the stripe.

Guiao said Miller’s absence is surely not an excuse.

“It would have been an opportunity for somebody to step because these guys are supposed to be the best (in the PBA),” he said.

The Nationals fell behind with a big deficit early with the team shooting 5-of-20 from the three-point area. Jayjay Helterbrand was 0-of-5 while Arwind Santos, Mick Pennisi and James Yap all 1-of-3.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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