TEAM Pilipinas suffered its second loss in its buildup for the Fiba Basketball World Cup Asian qualifiers, bowing to Lebanon, 74-68, on Friday night at the Epsilon Chi Center inside the University of the Philippines campus in Quezon City.
The Philippine squad trailed by as many as 18 points early and repeated comeback attempts fell short as the home side slipped to 1-2 in their tune-up matches ahead of qualifiers against Iran and Kazakhstan.
Gilas Pilipinas will wrap up its tune-up matches on Sunday against this same Lebanon team.
National coach Yeng Guiao was left to rue another poor start, coming on the heels of a split with Jordan in two highly physical tuneup games.
“Coming into this game, we always have to be aware and conscious that we need to make a better effort early in the game,” said Guiao.
Lebanon raced to a double-digit lead early and took a 44-28 halftime lead, before Amir Saoud’s two free throws brought the visitors’ lead to 46-28 early in the third period.
Team Pilipinas, however, came to life and scored 13 unanswered points to close the gap and eventually trailed by only two points entering the final canto, 57-55.
The Philippines pulled to within a point on a lay-up by Arwind Santos, 60-59, but that was the closest the home team got.
Ali Haidar scored on a short stab and Ater Majok converted on a slam late in the fourth to give Lebanon the separation it needed, 74-68.
Chrisitan Standhardinger, Alex Cabagnot, and Kai Sotto were present for the tune-up match but were in street clothes for Team Pilipinas.
Haidar finished with a game-high 20 points, while Majok added 13 points for Lebanon.
Japeth Aguilar had 16 points, while Marcio Lassiter continued his fiery shooting as he added 11 points for the hosts.
Lebanon 74 — Haidar 20, Majok 13, Saoud 10, Abdel Nour 9, Bawji 6, Mehzer 5, Rustom 4, Akl 3, Ibrahim 2, Tabet 0, Khalil 0, Fares 0.
Philippines 68 – Aguilar 16, Lassiter 11, Fajardo 9, Santos 6, Rosario 5, Pringle 4, Slaughter 4, Tenorio 4, Wright 3, Lee 3, Rivero 2, Thompson 1, Castro 0, Erram 0.
Quarters: 20-16; 44-28; 57-55; 74-68.