Reeling from the crushing defeat at the hands of continental rivals South Korea last Wednesday, Gilas Pilipinas played uninspired basketball against hosts Lebanon, falling 87-106, Saturday evening at the Nouhad Nawfal Stadium in Beirut, Lebanon.
The loss dropped Gilas to the seventh place game, in which they take on Jordan on Sunday, August 20.
Terrence Romeo, who is the fourth leading scorer of the tournament, paced Gilas with 19 points. The 25-year old guard shot just 4-for-15 from the field but went 9-for-9 from the charity stripe. Jayson Castro and June Fajardo chipped in 13 points each, with the former dishing out seven dimes as well.
But a slow start by Gilas ultimately proved to be its downfall, as they fell behind by 19 points, 37-18, midway through the second frame.
Gilas was able to find its groove on defence, however, pressing the Lebanese that led to a strong Philippine rally. Sparked by three free throws from Carl Cruz, Gilas was able to cut the lead to as low as five points, 47-42, in a run capped by free throws from Matthew Wright with 1:14 left.
However, Lebanon’s naturalized center Norvel Pelle proved to be too much in the third frame, feasting on a Gilas side that did not have Christian Standhardinger. The 24-year old, 6-foot-11 big man scored the first 10 points of Lebanon in the quarter while stiffling the Philippines on the other end.
Pelle finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds, and nine blocks.
Already frustrated with the lack of energy his team played with, a fiery coach Chot Reyes stormed onto the court with 5:23 left after a non-call on Fajardo. He was then slapped with two technical fouls. The game was already out of reach at that moment, as Lebanon was up 86-68 by then.
Gilas was flatout dominated on the boards, 29-44. Moreover, Gilas went a horrid 37.68 percent from the field while allowing the hosts to shoot at a 50 percent clip.
Lebanese great Fadi El Khatib reset the tournament books, finishing with a 2017 Asia Cup-high of 36 points to go along with six rebounds, eight assists, and two steals.
Gilas Pilipinas 87 – Romeo 19, Castro 13, Fajardo 13, Wright 12, Cruz 8, Aguilar 6, Pogoy 5, Norwood 4, Almazan 2, Jalalon 2.
Lebanon 106 – El Khatib 36, Pelle 23, Souad 11, Ebd Le Nour 9, Haidar 9, Saoud 8, Mezher 6, Bawji 4, Chartouny 0, Tabet 0.
Quarterscores: 18-29, 42-50, 61-75, 87-106.