Members of Smart Gilas II whoop it up after securing a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the United States, 76-75, to capture the 34th Jones Cup crown in Taiwan yesterday. PHOTO COURTESY OF YU CHIH-SHENG OF APPLE DAILY
The Smart Gilas Pilipinas National team defeated a taller American squad Sunday to take home the 2012 William Jones Cup title, 76-75, in Taipei, Taiwan.
In Taipei, Taiwan 34th William Jones Cup; Philippine Team Smart Gilas II fought a tall and mighty American team with all its weapons of destruction, from its tallest man to the smallest, and hacked out a 76-75 victory to annex the country's fourth crown in 34 editions of the William Jones Cup last night at the TPEC Gymnasium here.
The national team's tall men, led by naturalized player Marcus Douthit, took turns in containing the fury of the American squad of future NBA players but in the end, it was its smallest player, 5-8 L.A. Tenorio, who delivered the killer blows that gave the Filipinos the scary win before cheering Filipino fans in the capital city.
Tenorio played the game of his life, cutting the Americans down to size with his game-long brilliance as the Filipinos enjoyed their grandest time on the international stage in a long, long while.
Barely three weeks together, the Nationals won the crown – the country's first championship in the Asian level since the Phl Centennial team of coach Tim Cone also reigned supreme here in 1998.
Clinching the championship with a win over the tough US team made Smart Gilas' feat so amazing.
"Before the game, we just said imagine the Philippines playing the US for the gold in a basketball game. I know it's just a Jones Cup, an Asian level, but I don't know if it's going to happen again in our lives. We said we take this opportunity," said Gilas coach Chot Reyes.
As in their games against Japan, Korea and Iran, the Filipinos fought with great resolve, coming from behind to pull the rug from under the athletic and quick Americans.
"This might be the weakest Philippine team, the least prepared, smallest. What it has got is a big heart," said Reyes.
"Heart won it for us versus Japan, Korea, Iran and the US. These guys just don't know the meaning of quit," added Reyes whose wards ruled the tournament with a 7-1 win-loss showing.
Iran, the 2007 and 2009 FIBA Asia champion, placed second at 6-2 with the US coming in at 5-3. Korea (5-2) and Chinese Taipei (4-3) were still playing at press time.
With his 5-foot-8 frame, Tenorio stood tall, making the biggest plays, the biggest shots and even the biggest rebound as the Philippines nailed its fourth Jones Cup championship.
The Northern Cement team beat a Sweden side in ruling the 1981 event and returned to upend the US team in the finals in 1985. The Centennial squad humbled the home team in the gold-medal game in 1998.
Tenorio collected 20 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter mostly on a two-man game with Marcus Douthit.
The Alaska Milk playmaker personally rallied Gilas from a seven-point deficit and himself clinched the victory as he knocked in the go-ahead basket with 20 seconds left then collared the rebound as Mychal Kearse flubbed a jumper 12 seconds later.
Sent to the stripe with 1.9 seconds left, Chan deliberately missed his second free throw after he muffed the first one.
As the ball went out of bounds, the US team was left with .9 second to run one last play – court to court.
As the long inbound landed in Freddie Williams' hands, the final buzzer sounded, sending the Gilas team and cheering Filipino supporters in the venue in wild celebration.
"I thought our guys played with their heart out, doing everything possible to get it. But that's basketball and we have to give the Philippines the credit. They came back when they're down and made the shots down the stretch," said US coach Travis McAvene.
"No. 5 (Tenorio) was the big difference. I think we did a good job on him in the first half but he started getting into the groove in the second half. He penetrated too much, creating plays and hitting shots himself," McAvene said of Tenorio.
Douthit did his job by piling up 17 points and 12 rebounds while Chan was again a solid contributor with five triples and a total of 20 markers.
Smart Gilas Pilipinas 76 – Tenorio 20, Chan 18, Douthit 17, Fonacier 9, Norwood 5, David 5, De Ocampo 2, Thoss 0, Mercado 0.
United States 75 –Arnold 17, Justice 17, Marshall 14, Barnes 13, Dearman 10, Vandermeer 2, Reese 0, Williams 0.
Quarterscores: 12-13, 23-34, 51-59, 76-75