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Post by Admin on Sun Jul 29, 2007 3:22 am

Do-or-die game await Nationals Sunday vs. China

TOKUSHIMA – An Olympic dream took on a nightmarish form for San Miguel- Team Pilipinas Saturday after it dropped its opening game against Iran, 75-69, in the 24th FIBA-Asia Men's Championship at the ASTY gym.

The Nationals trailed early, fell behind by as many as 17 points, came back tantalizingly within a point only to fall short in the end.

Kerby Raymundo and three-point shooting Mick Pennisi rallied the Nationals close enough to snatch the win, but a bench technical called by the Greek referee on SMC-RP for asking for a travelling call with Iran ahead 69-68 with a minute left proved fatal.

"I hope that referee is happy for calling that technical," said fuming national coach Chot Reyes. "It's just unbelievable. It's a stupid call. We deserved to have a fair chance but he spoiled a great match. I can't put words into it, not to take away anything from Iran."

Forward Mohammad Nikkah, who led Iran with 25 points, hit two free throws from that call and it was basically over from there.

"We deserve to win the game because we shot well from the field," said Iran coach Rijko Toroman. "But we were terrible from the free throw line."

SMC-RP must now beat defending China Sunday and Jordan Monday to gain a chance of advancing to the quarterfinal round.

The Nationals had a scary first quarter and an even scarier second period where they trailed by as many as 27-16 after a run of eight unanswered points by the Iranians.

Though the 11-point deficit was bad enough, it could have been worse had Iran been steady from the free throw line.

The Iranians missed eight foul shots in the last five minutes of the first half and were 6- for-21 overall from the stripe in settling to a 30-25 lead at the intermission.

SMC-RP shot a woeful 3-for-21 from inside the arc in the first 20 minutes, missed five of its 3-point attempts, and turned the ball over 13 times, twice more than Iran.

Starting with Danny Seigle, Jimmy Alapag, Asi Taulava, Dondon Hontiveros and Kelly Williams, the Nationals missed their first three shots and trailed quickly 11-4 as forward Mohammad Nikkhah had seven of his 14 first half points in the opening quarter.

Tight, nervous and disorganized at times, the Nationals lost possession on the dribble and unchallenged passes, missed from close range, and were slow defending against the Iranian shooters who drained four in the first 10 minutes.

Iran used an aggressive match-up zone that double-teamed the Nationals' post-up players and effectively shut down the smaller RP shooters.

The third quarter became the culmination of the Nationals' disappointing debut as they missed their first eight shots and watched Iran build a 39-25 advantage with a 9-0 run to start the second half.

In the other Group A game, point guard Rasheim Wright and three-point shooting center Zaid Alkhas did the most damage as Jordan stunned defending champion China 78-65.

Wright scored 31 points, hitting 10 of his 13 shots from inside the 3-point arc, while 6-11 Alkhas had 22 with two triples.

Jordan and China are bracketed with San Miguel-Pilipinas and Iran in Group A.

Jordan's tenacious defense and its ability to shred bare China's interior courtesy of Wright were the key to the runaway win.

"The only way to beat China is with defense," said Mario Palma, Jordan's frenetic Brazilian coach, who pretty much outlined the factors in the upset.

"We studied them and we killed completely their outside shooting. We also stopped their fast break and didn't allow them second shots. We also easily beat their press and committed fewer turnovers."

Palma was on the mark in his assessment.

The proud Chinese were stifled to below 40 percent shooting from within the 3-point line, were outrebounded 39-30, and gave the Jordanians 10 more free throws from nine more fouls, 28-19.

China missed 12 of its 17 3-point attempts as a result of Jordan's hard-nosed defense which also forced 13 turnovers, one more than their Middle East opponent.

Yang Ming and Wang Yong each had 15 points but no Chinese player had more than seven after them, with both of them plus Wang Bo fouling out in the second half.

In other preliminary round games, Qatar clobbered India 106-49; Kazakhstan crushed Indonesia 107-53; Korea drubbed Hong Kong, 107-67; Chinese-Taipei routed Syria, 90-66; and host Japan plastered United Arab Emirates, 109-66.

NOTES: Hurting the Nationals’ cause against Iran was Taulava spraining his left ankle when he landed on an Iranian’s foot on a rebound play, Alapag also injuring himself and Seigle succumbing to cramps. Their conditions will be crucial to SMC-RP’s cause against China Sunday… PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial "confiscated" the cell phones, laptops and i-pods of all the players on the eve of the game with Iran on the instruction of team officials "to make sure nobody stays past waking hours at the Tokushima Prince Hotel. This arrangement will be enforced throughout the tournament, Marcial said…SBP president and telecommunications tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan and PBA chairman Ricky Vargas arrived from Hong Kong Saturday afternoon and was driven straight from Kansai International Airport to the playing venue for the RP-Iran game.

The scores:

IRAN 75 –Nikkhah 25, Davari 14, Nekkah 12, Kamrany 10, Amini 5, Ehadadi 3, Nabipoor 2, Eslamieh 2, Doraghi 1, Sahaklan 1, Akbari 0, Rouzbahani 0.

SMC-RP 69 – Raymundo 15, Alapag 12, Seigle 8, Caguioa 7, Taulava 6, Pennisi 6, Hontiveros 5, Norwood 4, Williams 3, Helterbrand 3, Ritualo 0, Menk 0.

Quarterscores: 19-14; 30-25; 51-36; 75-69.

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Registration date : 2007-07-14

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