FRUSTRATED in the semifinals on Saturday nigh, Smart Gilas Pilipinas simply lost the competitive fire to win a medal on Sunday night.
Al Rayyan of Qatar cashed in on the national five’s uninspired play and seized the bronze medal with a 71-64 victory in the 22nd Fiba Asia Champions Cup yesterday night at the Philsports Arena.
American import Chauncey Leslie fired 19 points and Targuy Ngombo had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Qataris, who also dominated the boards, 56-38.
Except for Marcus Douthit’s 28 points and JV Casio’s 10, half of them on garbage points, nobody from the Smart Gilas roster reached double figures.
Overall, the mediocre field-goal shooting—23 of 65 from the floor and 3 of 24 from three-point land—cost the Nationals the bronze medal in what could have been a redeeming finish for the Philippines in the continental club championships since winning the crown in 1996.
The collapse recalled a similar loss of heart by the RP five in the 2002 Busan Asian Games when it all but yielded the bronze medal to Kazakhstan after losing to South Korea by a point in the semifinals.
“We were not mentally ready for this game. We had lots of chances but if you shoot like that…,” said Smart Gilas coach Rajko Toroman, his voice trailing off in dismay.
“I’m disappointed. It was our worst game (in the tournament). We’re afraid to win a medal. We hesitated most of the time and it’s a pity,” added Toroman. /Inquirer