Smart Gilas Pilipinas Settles for Bronze in Dubai

Smart Gilas capped an impressive showing in the 21st Dubai International Tournament with a 107-98 win over Syria’s Al Jalaa to capture the bronze medal before a horde of overseas Filipino workers at the Al Ahli Club here.

Marnel Baracael tossed in 26 points while Mark Barroca unloaded 18 of his 21 points in the final period for Gilas, which converted 18 straight freethrows in the closing minutes and scored 40 points in the fourth.

Barroca buried a three-pointer followed by Baracael’s freethrows that allowed the all-local Gilas crew to take a 91-83 lead entering the last two minutes.

The Syrians then opted to send the Filipinos to the charity stripe in an effort to stop the clock, producing 18 consecutive freethrows made for Gilas.

“We’re disappointed after the loss (against Al Riyadi). But we recovered pretty well and showed mental toughness in the end,” said RP coach Rajko Toroman after Gilas climbed from several double-digit deficits before churning out the win.

Freethrows by Japeth Aguilar and Chris Tiu gave the Nationals their first taste of the lead, 78-76. Barroca then fired a three-pointer and Baracael sank his freethrows to make it 89-83, forcing the Syrians to foul the Filipinos in the succeeding possessions inside two minutes.

Iran’s Mahram defeated Al Riyadi of Lebanon, 85-67, to clinch the crown in the championship match. Samad Nikkah Bahrami was named MVP.

JVee Casio won the best guard award and CJ Giles of Al Riyadi was adjudged best center.

“This tournament allowed us to earn the respect of the other Asian teams,” said Toroman, who also thanked overseas Filipino workers for their unflinching support.

Toroman again benched Jamal Sampson and relied on the locals to get back at the Syrians, their tormentors in the elimination round.

To close the huge gap in the middle, Toroman utilized 6-foot-7 Jason Ballesteros for extended minutes along with Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter to seal the paint against the size and height of Al Jalaa.

Apart from being reinforced by three Americans—seven-footer Zendon Hamilton, 6-foot-10 Garnett Thompson and guard Demetric Shaw—Al Jalaa has three Brazilian-Syrians in Marcelle Correa (6-10), Eder Gorges (6-11) and Michael Maadanli, who had with 23 points.

SMART GILAS 107-—Baracael 26, Barroca 21, Tiu 12, Aguilar 10, Casio 10, Lassiter 9, Cawaling 9, Balesteros 4, Slaughter 4, Ababou 0.

AL JALAA 98-—Maadanli 23, Correa 18, Shaw 16, Hamilton 10, Gorges 9, Al Sharif 8, Thompson 7, Meraneh 5, Papazian 2.

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