SMART Gilas-Pilipinas began its 24th Dubai International Basketball Tournament campaign on a winning note, rallying past Mouttahed of Lebanon, 79-77, early Saturday morning at the Al Ahli gym.
The Lebanese club team paraded three imports led by Marc Salyers and a sprinkling of members of the national team led by Rony Fahed.
Still, that didn’t deter the national team, majority of which are composed of cadet players from the national pool, from pulling off a stunning win capped by its comeback from a harrowing 0-11 start.
“Beat Mottaheed of Lebanon w 3 US imports & 3 natl team players after being down by 15 in d 1st,” tweeted national coach Chot Reyes in his account @coachot.
By halftime, the Filipinos were already on top 41-40 and went on to engage Mouttahed in a dog-fight in the second half.
Naturalized player Marcus Douthit led Smart Gilas with 20 points, while Ronjay Buenafe finished with 10 points – all in the opening half – as he led the Nationals’s big first half fightback.
Garvo Lanete added 15, while Kevin Alas had 9.
Gilas takes on Al Ahli of the host country next on Sunday morning, before capping its schedule in Group B preliminary against Sporting Amarex of Jordan.