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Post by Admin on Mon Jul 16, 2007 12:59 am

Alapag named tournament MVP

Jimmy Alapag saved the best for last, producing yet another masterful performance in leading San Miguel-Pilipinas past the veteran Lebanese basketball team and its unflappable superstar Fadih El Khatib, 87-81, Sunday night as the Nationals captured the Smart 4-Nation Manila Invitational Championship at the Araneta Coliseum.

Alapag atoned for his crucial missed free throws in the final seconds of the heartbreaker against China Friday, coming off the bench to score 23 points, 16 coming in the second quarter where he went 3-of-4 from the three-point line and 3-of-4 from the perimeter. He also had four assists and two steals.

The RP team leaves for Tokushima less than two weeks from now to compete in the FIBA-Asia Men's Championship, seeking the Golden Fleece of world basketball competition a slot in the Beijing Olympics next August

The Philippines is bracketed in what national coach Chot Reyes has termed as the Group of Death, with China, Jordan and Iran.

Mark Caguioa also came through with a sterling second half, adding 19 points after missing his first nine shots and going scoreless in the first.

The Nationals were without Danny Seigle (hamstring), James Yap (left ankle sprain) and Jay-Jay Helterbrand (right ankle).

"We learned how to close games, we seized the opportunity. We're able to achieve that even though we're not a hundred percent because of injuries," said Reyes.

"Not yet time to celebrate, let's reserve the celebration for Japan," he added.

Alapag was named the Most Valuable Player of the four-nation meet also sponsored by Nike, Gatorade, Victory Liner, Casino Alcohol and Omega Pain Killer.

Gabe Norwood, the 6-5 former George Mason University stalwart, was a revelation.

"The point guard spot is the position we need to dominate. The addition of Gabe gave us the dimension because he can play the point, shooting guard, wingman spots. Kahit ano pwedeng gawin," said Reyes.

However, Norwoods' addition to the team for the Tokushima continues to hang in the balance with his papers still in progress.

The team leaves for Japan on July 25, but will play the Kuwait national team in two exhibition games Friday and Saturday.

"From March to today, the difference is like night and day for the team. But we're evolving very well," said Reyes.

"We're almost there. This team, they've made so many sacrifices for us," said PBA Commissioner Noli Eala.

Joining Alapag in the tournament's Mythical Five Team was teammate Kelly Williams, who added 15 points, Michael Madanly of Syria, Lebanon's Joseph Vogel and and Fahdi El Khatib.

In the first game, Syria, which got 32 points from Madanly, defeated China in the battle for third, 90-85.

The scores:

First Game

Syria 90 Madanly 32, Hadad, 19, Alsaman 18, Labes 11, Hasalballah 9, Abd Allah 1, Yakuob 0, Correa 0, Farhat 0, Karkoukli 0.

China 85 Bian 16, Wang B 13, Wang Y 11, Zhang 11, Gu 11, Yang 10, Yi 7, Li 4, Chen 2, Wu 0.

Quarterscores: 18-19, 48-47, 70-57, 90-85.

Second Game

SMC-Pilipinas 87 Alapag 23, Caguioa 19, Williams 15, Raymundo 10, Ritualo 7, Norwood 7, Taulava 4, Menk 2, Pennisi 0, Hontiveros 0.

Lebanon 81 El Khatib 31, Vogel 27, Mahmoud 15, Fahed 4, Beshara 2, Balaa 2, Turk 0, Abdel Nour 0.
Quarterscores: 15-14, 36-35, 59-59, 87-81.

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Registration date : 2007-07-14

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