MANILA, Philippines (22nd FIBA Asia Champions Cup): Al Rayyan of Qatar kept their record of winning a medal on every appearance in FIBA Asia Champions Cup intact beating a perky, but profligate, Smart Gilas 71-64 in the bronze medal play-off on Sunday.
While for Rayyan, it was their fourth bronze adding to the medal of similar hue won 2004, 2006 and 2007, for Smart Gilas, who made their maiden semifinal entry in three appearances, it was a heart-breaking loss for the second night in succession.
Like has been their wont in the competition – some might even say for the last three years – Smart Gilas displayed tremendous character and characteristic effervescence in the display of their sublime skills.
But when it came to converting the speed into scoring, Smart Gilas shockingly came a cropper.
Smart Gilas had a woeful 3/24 record in their three-pointers – normally their strength.
“You can’t expect to win with such a percentage,” bemoaned Smart Gilas coach Rajko Toroman.
“Also we didn’t have enough support in size.”
Marcus Douthit gave a good account of himself – as if justifying his naturalization by the Filipino outfit – in his battle against Yasseen Musa, but Rayyan’s obvious advantage in size translated into leads on the scoreboard.
Douthit had 28 points and 17 rebounds – both game-highs – but Smart Gilas could have done better with a little help in offensive rebounds.
In all Rayyan had a staggering 20-8 advantage in offense rebounds, in an overall 56-38 advantage.
Added to that, Chauncey Leslie taught a few lesson to the young JV Casio in his marking the rival guard early in the game to upset Smart Gilas’ rhythm. Casio had all of three looks at the goal for the entire first half, and even those were rather wayward.
Leslie came into his own offense form in the second quarter scoring seven of his team-high 19 points in the second quarter and then came back to add another 9 in the fourth.
Targuy Ngombo (pic above) one of the most exciting youngsters in the FIBA Asia circuit produced another typical robust performance for his 18 points and a dozen rebounds.
“I take the positive that even in a bad game we showed character to fight a team like Rayyan close,” Rajko said.
“We knew we had to stop their treys if we needed to have a chance. We worked on that and it paid off,” said Rayyan coach Brian Rowsom, for whom it was his maiden medal in FIBA Asia Champions Cup.
“I must pay credit to my defense and the way the team rallied around after the beating last night,” Rowsom added.
S Mageshwaran / FIBA Asia
Photo: Milad Payami / FIBA Asia