SMART Gilas-Pilipinas failed to recover this time and absorbed a stinging 97-82 loss against Al-Ahli of United Arab Emirates in the 24th Dubai International basketball tournament at the Al Ahli Sports Club early Sunday morning (Manila time).
The 15-point blowout came exactly 24 hours after the Nationals rallied back from a flat start and completed a come-from-behind 79-77 win over Mouttahed of Lebanon in its opening game Saturday.
Coach Chot Reyes held himself responsible for the Nationals’ first loss in the annual meet.
“My fault,” he tweeted in his account @coachot. “I inexplicably lost my voice 5 mins into d game pa lang. Gone. Just like that. Couldn’t coach well d rest of d way.”
The host team paraded three imports in former New York Knick Cheikh Samb of Senegal and Americans Leroy Hurd and Leemire Goldwire, who both had an impressive stint in the NBA D-League.
Their presence obviously made the difference as Al Ahli led by as many as 23 points.
“D team’s immaturity showed tonight. Cudnt handle playing vs 3 ex NBA vets,” Reyes tweeted later.
“Tough loss,” tweeted cadet player Kevin Louie Alas in his account @kevinlouiealas. The Letran superstar guard played a key role in the team’s rousing two-point win over the Lebanese team the other night.
The Nationals end their preliminary round campaign against Sporting Amarex of Jordan – which beat Al Ahli Saturday - hoping for a win and secure at least one of the top two berths in Group B.