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Post by Admin on Sun Jul 15, 2007 7:35 am

Alapag makes up for bungled FTs vs China with 28-point explosion

Of little consequence though it may be at this point, San Miguel-Team
Pilipinas will have to wait until the FIBA-Asia Men's Championship in Tokushima to get a crack at chipping even a brick off the Great Wall of China.

No Philippine team has beaten Asia's
supreme basketball power since Ron Jacobs' Northern Consolidated squad
in 1986, and the 21-year drought will have to wait a couple more weeks
to get quenched.

coming within two free throws of upsetting China Friday, SMC-RP became
a passive spectator Saturday night as Lebanon, powered by the legendary
Fahdi El Khatib, stunned the Chinese, 77-71, precipitating the ouster
of the defending FIBA-Asia champion from the Smart 4-National Manila
Invitational Championship at The Arena in San Juan.

Robbed of
the honor by the Lebanese, the Nationals took consolation in driving
the final nail to the elimination of China by trouncing Syria, 92-79,
and claiming the highest quotient in the three-way tie on 2-1 records
that ensued among the Philippines, Lebanon and China.

San Miguel-Team Pilipinas emerged with a plus-2 quotient, Lebanon plus-1 and China
minus-3, arranging a title showdown between the Nationals and the
Lebanese, who defeated the RP team in the 29th William Jones Cup in Taipei two weeks ago.

Heaving 30 attempts from 3-point range in the first half and connecting
on 10, the Nationals took a 51-44 lead at halftime, with Jimmy Alapag
going 3-for-4.

They stayed in cruise control through most of
the second half until the Syrians threatened to within 78-81 with four
minutes remaining.

But Kerby Raymundo scored on a post-up move
along the baseline to spark a 10-0 run, with Gabe Norwood's foul shots
giving SMC-RP a 91-78 advantage.

Alapag redeemed himself from the two missed foul shots that would have upended China
by unloading 28 points on a blistering 8-for-11 shooting, going 9-of
-10 from the foul line, and grabbing five rebounds, with seven assists
and two steals.

Sitting out the Syria game to heal minor injuries and rest weary bodies were Mark Caguioa, Jayjay Helterbrand, James Yap and Danny Seigle.

Meanwhile, Dragan Raca, the Yugoslav coach of the Lebanese basketball
team, believes the Filipinos are capable of topping the "Group of
Death" in the FIBA-Asia Men's, but adds a number of factors will have
to fall into place for that to happen.

"The Philippines
can beat everyone in that group with its speed. But it will also
depend on the players' rhythm and their coaches' scouting," said Raca,
who played for the Yugoslavian national squad in the '80s and was a
teammate of the late NBA star Drazen Petrovic of the New Jersey Nets
and journeyman center Vlade Divac, who suited up for the Los Angeles
Lakers and the Sacramento Kings.

Given the talent stacked in
Group A of the FIBA-Asia preliminaries China, Iran, Jordan and the
Philippines Raca said "it's very hard to pick which team will come
out on top because all four are very good and play different brands of

Considered one of the top coaches in Europe, Raca said the young Chinese are the future of basketball in China, Iran is the most physical, the Philippines has the speed, and Jordan has been practicing for at least a year.

"They are of the same level, but the Philippines is capable of beating them if they do the right things."

lost to SMC-RP 88-83 in the opener Thursday, and the Chinese turned
back the host 77-74 Friday, setting the stage for the crucial game
pitting Lebanon and China.

Raca was elated over Lebanon's first-ever triumph over China.

"We were never scared of them," he said. "This is good preparation for us, very important before we go to Japan."

El Khatib, Lebanon' star forward, took matters into his own hands in
the closing minutes, and consecutive three-point shots by point guard
Ali Mahmmoud buried the Chinese, who lost key players Yi Li and Wang Bo
to fouls early in the third quarter.

El Khatib tied the score
69-all, and after 6-11 center Li Ke gave China back the lead, Mahmmoud
drained a 3-pointer to restore the advantage to Lebanon for good, 1:35
to go.

A driving layup by El Khatib made it 74-71 before Mahmmoud beat the shot clock buzzer with a 3-pointer in front of the Lebanon bench for 77-71.

The game had eight deadlocks and seven lead changes, with China leading by double digits twice in the first half and Lebanon taking control by as many as eight points, 50-42, in the third quarter.

The scores:

First Game

LEBANON 77 El Khatib 26, Mahmmoud 17, Abdel Nour 10, Vogel 9, Turk 7, Balaa 2, Beshara 2, Fahed 2, Samaha 0.

CHINA 71 Li 22, Wang Y. 11, Gu 9, Chen 8, Yi 7, Bian 6, Zhang 4, Wang B. 2, Yang 2, Wu 0, Han 0.

Quarters: 13-18; 34-34; 59-53; 77-71.

Second Game
92 Alapag 28, Ritualo 14, Norwood 14, Hontiveros 13, Williams 11,
Pennisi 6, Raymundo 4, Taulava 2, Dela Cruz 0, Menk 0, De Ocampo 0.

SYRIA 79 Madanly 29, Correa 22, Farhat 12, Yakoub 6, Kasballi 5, Hadad 3, Labes 2, Abd Allah 0, Alsaman 0, Karkoukli 0.

Quarters: 20-22; 51-44; 77-66; 92-79.

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Registration date : 2007-07-14

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