Dispirited Gilas pays for flat start against Lebanon, slips to battle for seventh place
Lebanon star Fadi El-Khatib torched Gilas for 36 points. Photo from Fiba.com

GILAS Pilipinas paid for a flat start against host Lebanon on Saturday night, 87-106, and fell to its worst finish in eight years in the Fiba Asia Cup.

A Gilas side that looked too dispirited to put up a fight after a deflating loss to Korea in the knockout quarterfinals three days ago immediately fell into a 19-point hole and spent the rest of the evening trying to mount a comeback.

Lebanese great Fadi El-Khatib made sure there was no such comeback, torching Gilas for 36 points as the tournament hosts advanced to the battle for fifth place with former champion China.

Gilas, on the other hand, lost its second straight game after a sweep of its group assignments and slipped into the battle for seventh place with Jordan.

The Philippines, runner-up in the last two editions of the Fiba Asia Cup, has not finished lower than fourth since a team coached by Yeng Guiao finished eighth in the 2009 showpiece in Tianjin, China.

Gilas was able to cut the lead to five, 47-42, near the end of the first half but never got any closer as El Khatib continued to haunt the Filipino defenders while NBA Summer League attendee Norvel Pelle shone on defense with nine blocks.

In a sign of frustration, head coach Chot Reyea got ejected with 5:23 left in the game and Lebanon up 86-68 after the referees missed the call on a foul on June Mar Fajardo underneath.

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