Thursday, 10 March 2011

PBA: Gilas hang tough to beat Express, 102-99

Posted by chardyboy on Thursday, March 10, 2011 0 comments

source: gmanews

Young as the team is, Pilipinas-Smart Gilas proved once again that it already has the poise and composure to squeeze out of a tightly-fought game.

For the second straight time, the Nationals walked the tightrope before getting past Air21 Express, 102-99, in the PBA Commissioner's Cup Wednesday night at the Astrodome.

Smart Gilas lost an 11-point lead in the final five minutes, and then watched Jay-R Reyes miss a potential game-tying basket at the buzzer to book its third straight win and grab a share of the lead with idle Rain or Shine.

The Nationals were stretched to overtime by the Alaska Aces the last time before prevailing, 91-89.

Marcus Douthit was again a towering presence for the team with his 30-point and 18-rebound production, while Marcio Lassiter added 22 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the FIBA-Asia Olympic qualifying meet-bound national squad.

Dylan Ababou sank two free throws with 2.7 seconds left for the final margin. The Express failed to send the game into overtime when Reyes' looping three-pointer from the left corner could only hit the tip of the rim at the buzzer.

"We expected a close game because we were not 100 percent ready for it," said Gilas coach Rajko Toroman. "They brought a good import. We saw him in Dubai playing for Lebanon."

Toroman was referring to Alpha Bangura, who replaced Jeremy Robinson.

Bangura had a decent Philippine debut, topscoring for 27 points on 11-of-19 shooting, but he committed two costly turnovers in the stretch when the Express were at the height of their comeback from an 84-95 deficit.

The Nationals were still ahead, 97-87, following a spectacular, two-handed follow-up slam dunk by Japeth Aguilar with 4:10 remaining when Air21 suddenly sprang to life.

Nine unanswered points punctuated the Express' rally as they threatened at 97-96.

Douthit momentarily gave Smart Gilas some breathing room by converting a difficult turn-around jumper, and Lassiter split his charities to stretch the lead to 100-96 with 1:28 remaining.

For a while, the Express appeared doomed as Bangura committed back-to-back turnovers. But Dondon Hontiveros kept the fight for Air21 when he was fouled while attempting a three-point shot.

The veteran shooting forward, however, converted only one of three free throws, deliberately missing his third attempt. Danny Seigle then grabbed the offensive rebound and scored on a putback as the Exrpress threatened for the last time, 99-100.

Aldrech Ramos finished with 16 and Aguilar added 11 to make up for the poor shooting night of skipper Chris Tiu. The former Ateneo point guard only had two points on a miserable 1-of-13 shooting from the floor.

Reyes topped all Air21 locals in scoring with a conference-high 23 points, 18 of them coming in the third quarter.


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