F <img border="0" src="http://lh4.ggpht.com/_U65F7NTt3nQ/TF2zSBJGg9I/AAAAAAAAAU4/Zaaf947HXyE/pinoyarticleico.jpg" alt="Philippines sports"/>Gilas five earns berth in Olympic qualifying event - Powcast Sports

Philippines sportsGilas five earns berth in Olympic qualifying event

source: Rey Joble, GMANews.TV

Smart-Gilas Pilipinas has just passed an acid test before moving to their next big battle – the Asian Games in Guangzhou.

The national developmental team finished fourth in the recently concluded FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup at the Ghazir Sporting Club in Beirut.

The Filipinos lost to Qatar, 75-80, in their battle for bronze medal Sunday (Monday morning in Manila) in a game coach Rajko Toroman and his troop led majority of the way.

The national team hopefuls, who are also being supported by GMA PinoyTV, led by as much as nine points, 25-16, at the end of the first period, and established a 50-43 lead on a basket by Jason Ballesteros, 4:26 left in the third.

But Qatar unloaded a 13-3 run to overtake its rival, 59-56, entering the final quarter.

Qatar posted its biggest lead at 12, 74-62, on Daoud Musa’s split charities, 1:44 left.

The Filipinos rallied and tried to come closer behind Mac Baracael and Marcio Lassiter, but they ran out of time.

“Our defense was better in the fourth quarter," Qatar coach Ali Fakhroo said. “Álso, we shot the ball better. Thankfully, they missed their shots," he added.

Targuy Ngombo led all scorers with 28 points.

Despite losing in the medal race, the Filipinos have a more valid reason to celebrate. That's because the fourth-place in the Stankovic Cup was enough to land the Filipinos a spot in the FIBA Asia Men’s Basketball Championship next year.

The FIBA Asia Championship serves as a qualifying event for the 2012 London Olympics.

“We really want to secure a spot in the FIBA Asia Championship by playing well in the Stankovic Cup," said Toroman, who brought a short-handed team in this tournament after import Marcus Douthit, center Greg Slaughter and Rabeh Al-Hussaini failed to play for the squad.

Next mission for the Filipino cagers is the elusive Asian Games gold medal. The Philippines last won a gold in the quadrennial meet in 1962 when the squad was backstopped by Caloy Loyzaga. - GMANews.TV


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