By John Paul Marquez
Alaska Aces’ main point guard LA Tenorio lighten up the PH after he hit the 18-foot jump shot off Marcus Douthit screen for his total of 20 points to guarantee their win against USA, 76-75, last night.
In the first part, the USA started the game via 6-0 courtesy of Jermaine Barnes but the Philippines responded in a 10 unanswered points to get the lead after Jeff Chan’s two trey for his 20 points of total. USA still handled the lead in the end, 13-12 after a 7-2 run. In the second quarter, USA stretched their lead by dominating the boards. Their 5’10 guard James Justice led them, dropping 17 points and they headed to their dug-out with the advantage 34-23.
Curtis Marshall widen their lead after he knocked down a three, 39-25. With Gary David’s long distance shot he decreasde the US lead, 44-37. But Justice and Marshall both converted for an and-one to make a big difference again, 50-37. With eight seconds left, Tenorio started to get his rhythm after he went for a reverse against seven footer Scott Vandermeer to ride the last sentence in the quarter, 59-51.
Tenorio and Norwood knocked down from the arc to bond the score at 59, Tenorio and the Philippines finally got the driver’s seat with his floater, 59-61 but his nemesis Justice connected with teardrops to get back the lead for the US, 63-62.
Once again the lieutenant LA does damage after his spinned and a shot to regain the lead. It's been a point guard showdown when Justice once again shutdown the Filipino crowd in the arena after he pulled down a three, 73-72. Jermaine Dearman left wide open underneath the basket coming off a bullet pass from his teammate, to get the lead once again at 75-74 with 36.1 seconds left. Gilas mentor Chot Reyes executed the play he wanted, and the ball ended on the fiery hands of Tenorio and buried that jump shot with 19.9 seconds left. USA didn’t call a time-out, continuing their play but they didn’t score at that possession. Tenorio grasped for the rebound, and as expected the US immediately fouled him. With 1.9 seconds left Jeff Chan engaged to a two charity but his missed both, USA hoping for one last word with 0.9 ticks left, USA didn’t sink a jump shot that sealed the game. Philippines Naturalized center Marcus Douthit dished 17 points.
Finally, the Philippines grabbed the championship after the 1998 Philippine Centennial Team led by current B-Meg Llamados head coach Tim Cone. It took 14 years after owning the 4th title. The Philippines ended the tournament with a 7-1 record. They started their campaign by beating Jordan 88-78, followed by a lopsided victory against Chinese- Taipei B Guang Hua, 99-68, and then escaped South Korea, 82-79, another close victory against Japan, 88-84, and suffered from their only loss in the tournament coming from Lebanon, 91-72. After that they defeated the defending champion Iran via 77-75 and followed this last game against the 13-time champion.
LA Tenorio was hailed as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Gilas will compete in 4th FIBA Asia Cup in Tokyo, Japan on September 14-22 with almost the same line-up except for the addition of Talk n’ Text forward Jared Dillinger. Meralco’s guard Sol Mercado has been released in the line-up because of the FIBA rules concerning foreign-born citizen. Baracael was also released in the line-up as well as San Beda’s Garvo Lanete.