The SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team hurdled its first challenge as a team, defeating the Rasheim Wright-led Jordan national team, 88-78, to open its campaign in the 34th William Jones Cup in Taiwan.
Naturalized center Marcus Douthit finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds despite playing limited minutes in the first half while Gary David had 13 to pace the Filipinos. Shooters Jeff Chan and Larry Fonacier added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Philippines had a strong start, leading by nine points, 25-16, after the first quarter.
But with Douthit sitting out due to foul trouble, Jordan made a strong comeback, going on a 15-3 run to close out the second period and reclaim the lead before halftime.
Jordan led by as much as seven points early in the third before Douthit and Sol Mercado took over to turn things around for the Philippines. The pair scored 14 of the team’s 30 points in the quarter as the Filipinos outscored the Jordanians by 15 points in the third.
Ranidel De Ocampo capped off the quarter with a three-pointer at the buzzer.
But Wright, a familiar opponent of recent national teams, led Jordan on a big rally in the final period, coming to within two points, 76-74, with under three minutes remaining.
Douthit hit a free throw and Gabe Norwood got a big three-point play in transition to give SMART-Gilas a six-point lead. After a basket from Jordan, Larry Fonacier added a triple to bring the lead up to seven with less than a minute remaining.
The Philippines got another stop on the next position and Douthit all but put the game away with an easy dunk in transition.
Wright led Jordan with 24 points.
SMART-Gilas Pilipinas takes on Chinese-Taipei B in their next assignment. They then face South Korea, Japan, Lebanon, Iran, and Chinese Taipei A before closing their campaign against the US team.
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