A Cinderella Story: A New Chapter Unfolds

Jimmy Alapag

As you already know, there’s a whole new chapter that is unfolding in front of our eyes.

When Marcio Lassiter came in the last minute of the 1st quarter and Chris Lutz in the start of the 2nd quarter in the game against Jordan, we all know that our FIBA Asia journey will get a whole lot better. Marcio and Chris sparked our bench and Jordan’s 15 point lead over Smart Gilas was down to 5 points, 31-26 by halftime. From there, its all Smart Gilas with Marcio Lassiter contributing 4 3pt field goals and with Marcus Douthit towering Lebanon, who could stop us now?

And then Marcus fell down on the floor holding on to his ankle.

As the whole nation had a heart attack, Asi Taulava checked in to the game to replace the grimacing Marcus Douthit. But still, Jordan could not stop the boys in blue. They kept on running and hustling to sustain the lead. By the time Marcus came back in, Jimmy Alapag and Marcio Lassiter hit back-to-back treys to get a 47-41 lead.

And its all down hill from there for Jordan, as the Filipinos continued to  control the tempo of the game. Eventually, Smart Gilas won 72-64 with Kelly Williams capping the game off with a reverse two-handed jam.

With that win, the whole Asian continent knew that the Philippines is here to win. But we’re still not done with Japan looking to spoil Lassiter and Lutz’s comeback.

At the night before the game and right after the win over Jordan, Gilas coaching staff prepared for Japan with Coach Chot Reyes staying up all night to edit the videos of Japan. “Spent all night editing Japan video.They will be tough.2 excellent bigs in d Takeushi twins + d best scorer in Wuhan, Kawamura. #weready” coach Chot tweeted.

From the tweet itself, it is obviously another day in the office for the Philippines.

Smart Gilas found themselves down by halftime with Japan’s shooting taking a toll on our defense. But after that 15pt comeback in their last game, there is no impossible margin that the Filipinos could overcome.

Smart Gilas got off to a 26-12 3rd quarter run and it was all history after that. Gilas went to control the game with their running game and their physical defense. Japan went 16/28 from the freethrow line despite the fact that Japan’s shooting very well. Japan’s awful performance from the line contributed to their loss. Jimmy Alapag, the Philippine’s “Mighty Mouse” shot threes, drove in the lane, and made all the right plays for the nationals. Jimmy played a key role to stop Japan and give them their first loss of the tournament.

While Jimmy controlling the back court, Marcus Douthit is dominating the paint for Gilas who gave a huge double-double performance with 25pts 18rebs and 3blks for Gilas.

With the win over Japan, the Philippines moved up to the #2 spot in group F and our chances of having an ideal quarter-final opponent has gotten better. Tomorrow we face Syria, and assuming we beat Syria we’ll eventually get the #2 seed right below China and face Chinese Taipei in the quarter finals. Remember what coach Rajko said before the tournament began? That anything can happen once we get in to the quarter finals.

Our journey is not over..

It’s going to be hard and we know an Olympic berth is at stake. We just have to believe.

There’s a reason why we call this a Cinderella story.

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