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HomeBasketBallFIBAFour thoughts on Gilas Pilipinas' 15-point loss to Lebanon in the FIBA...

Four thoughts on Gilas Pilipinas' 15-point loss to Lebanon in the FIBA Asia Cup – ESPN

Gilas Pilipinas’ campaign in the 2022 FIBA Asia Cup got off on the wrong foot after they fell to Lebanon’s Cedars, 95-80, in Jakarta. A horrendous second quarter for Gilas and a hot third quarter for the Cedars set the tone for the game as Lebanon joined New Zealand, 100-47 winners over India, at the top of Group D.
The Cedars outscored Gilas 33-19 in the third period to take a 79-60 lead into the final quarter. Gilas made a run to cut it to 83-74 with under five minutes left and SJ Belangel and Poy Erram both had chances to trim the deficit to six. Neither of their 3-point shots would fall and Lebanon preserved the win.
“Unfortunate that the result turned out this way, but I thought we made a great run to get within single digits midway through the fourth quarter,” Gilas coach Chot Reyes said. “But the buffer that they got in the third quarter when they were hitting all those shots was just too much to overcome.”
Here are four thoughts on the game and what lies ahead for Gilas in the tournament.
The Cedars are big and physical
These two sides last met in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, where Lebanon carved out a convincing 106-87 win over a PBA-reinforced Gilas team. While both teams fielded almost entirely new lineups for this edition, the Cedars still showed why they’re one of the top Asian teams despite a lower FIBA world ranking (54) than the Philippines (34).
Lebanon’s starting point guard, Waej Arakji, is 6-foot-4 and towered over his Gilas counterparts. Their twin towers, 6-8 Hayk Gyokchan and 6-9 Jonathan Arledge, posed serious defensive challenges for the Gilas bigs. Both were also able to shoot from the outside while mixing it up in the paint. The duo, both in their early 30s, finished with 19 points each.
It was all Geo Chiu and Poy Erram could do to contain them. And with no Ange Kouame to patrol the inside, it was like a layup line for the Cedars as they scored 42 points in the paint. The lack of a rim protector for Gilas was evident as only Carl Tamayo managed to record a block (he had two).
Gilas youth showed fight
Reyes made some adjustments to start the fourth period in a last-ditch effort to mount a comeback. He sat Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena along with Ray Parks in favor of SJ Belangel, Will Navarro, and the player who turned out to be the spark plug off the bench, Rhenz Abando. It was this group, along with Tamayo and Erram, that went on a 14-1 run.
“We started off well with that starting unit, but Lebanon got the hang of that starting unit,” Reyes said. “They were stopping the things that we wanted to do, so we thought that if we get other guys on the floor, and with those fresh legs, I thought we were able to chase a little bit more defensively.”
Reyes has consistently stressed that this is tournament is about getting exposure for the young players.
“We have a very young team here, and for them to experience this very high level of competition, I think that’s the most important,” Reyes said. “It’s a learning experience for our bigs. They had to be able to help inside on the penetration of the guards and at the same time get out to pick out other guys.
“Sure, the Lebanese players were very skilled, but that’s the only way to learn, to play against superior talent.”
Thirdy the Warrior
A crucial four-point swing late in the second quarter proved costly for Gilas. After Parks missed a lay-up that could have cut Lebanon’s lead to two, Kevin Quiambao fouled Arakji in transition. The bump forced Arakji, who was about to go up into the air for a short stab, to stop his ascent. But Thirdy was already in the air and couldn’t stop his momentum. His body clipped Arakji’s head and he fell headfirst onto the floor. His forehead was bloodied and it took a long time for him to get up. When he did, he was taken away in a wheelchair. Lebanon then scored the next six points to take a 10-point spread before Parks hit three free throws to end the first half.
“He said he wanted to throw up on the court while he was down,” elder brother Kiefer said.
Everyone thought Thirdy was done for the night, but he returned in the second half and started for Gilas. The official report from the venue was that it was a laceration, and he had a bandage on his forehead.
“Thirdy said he was feeling OK, and he was willing to give it a try,” Reyes explained.
He managed only three points in the second half, but has seemingly escaped serious injury.
Looking ahead
Kiefer called the next game against India “our championship game.” Friday’s game for Gilas is must-win, while Lebanon and New Zealand play for the top spot. A Gilas loss would be catastrophic and virtually eliminate them from contention. India are fielding close to the same team that lost to Gilas by 16 points last week. Their 53-point loss to New Zealand notwithstanding, they are still capable of making it a very interesting match, especially since Gilas will be without Dwight Ramos, their top scorer from the last matchup.
With this loss to the Cedars and a tough matchup against New Zealand the Sunday, the likely scenario for Gilas is a third-place finish in Group D. That means the Philippines will then play in knockout game against the No. 2 team of Group C, which would likely be either Iran or Japan. Neither team is an easy opponent, but Gilas will have to beat one of them to get to the quarterfinals.

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