RP Beats Lebanon, 87-81

* RP’s “6th Man” crowd was present in this game as the Big Dome was easily at 90% of its full capacity.

* Almost everybody in the RP team put on a show during the pre-game warm ups with slam dunks because of the huge crowd, w/ Williams, Norwood & ALAPAG coming up w/ the most impressive dunks. And boy, can Jimmy REALLY sky even w/ his 5’8″ height. His most spectacular dunk, was bouncing the ball off the floor, then catching w/ one hand & slamming it in. That got the crowd hyped up. I got a video of those dunks, will try to upload it later at youtube.

* I never realized how animated Chot Reyes can be during the game, pacing back & forth at the halfcourt, gesturing wildly w/ his hands, & even going over the out of bounds line most of the time. Good thing the refs just sort of ignored it.

* It seems both teams played man-to-man defense all throughout the game.

‘Lebanese National Team’

* I think Vogel really played true to form in this game, rather than the laid back, soft games we usually saw from him. This is likely the version of Vogel that we will see at Tokushima, & it is AWESOME, scoring from inside & outside. In one play, Vogel drove to the basket against Asi & slammed it home. In another play, Vogel got the rebound underneath the boards, then slammed it back home w/ both hands.

* El-Khatib may have gotten a lot of help from Vogel in this game, but in the end, it was just him & Joe doing all the damage for their team, along w/ some contributions from their no. 6 guard.

* Beshara got the crowd’s ire due to the rather arrogant way he was contesting the calls, to the point that the crowd started to react to his every move. He sort of settled down & went into a low profile after that.

‘RP National Team’

* Heck, when “The Spark” is cold, he is REALLY cold, missing all of his first 7 or 8 shots from the field. Probably because of the jitters playing before such a huge hometown crowd since he & Jimmy got the most applause during the introductions. When he finally nailed his first shot, a 3 pt. shot, he pumped his fist up in the air at the crowd in triumph. In the 2nd half, though, I think “The Spark” made all of his shots, a complete turnaround from the first half.

* Great game by Kerby. He exerted a lot of effort shadowing El-Khatib, & what’s more, he got El-Khatib to work on defense, too, coming up w/ a couple of those great moves to the basket. I think that Kerby has the best, low post one-on-one moves in the team.

* I can’t say enough about Jimmy Alapag, now that I’ve seen his game up close. People keep talking about how strong he really is despite his height, but that is not so apparent until you’ve seen him in an actual game doing those penetrations. Twice, when he drove into the shaded lane, taller & heftier opponents end up bodying up on him in the air. But Jimmy’s tremendous upper body strength allows him to finish those shots even under that kind of pressure. Unbelievable.

* Great job by Norwood manning the point in Helterbrand’s absence. His long reach & great anticipation netted him at least 3 steals or interceptions during the game.

* Alapag finally got his wish during this game, lobbing the ball in the air for an alleyoop dunk by Williams.

‘Parting Shots’

* Great tournament, I think all of the teams enjoyed it, as evidenced during the awarding ceremonies, where the teams enthusiastically took a lot of pictures out there on the court.

* I hope this will eventually become an annual tournament to help keep our NT in shape for international competitions. But the problem is, it seems Pinoys just don’t generally want to watch international games, as evidenced by the lean attendance the previous 2 games.

* I regret not having watched the RP vs. Syria game live, but from now on, I resolve to watch as many of these international games here on our shores as much as possible in the future.

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