DUBAI -- Smart Gilas Pilipinas flashed its resiliency as it battled back from 15 points down to repulse Al Jazeera of Egypt, 82-78, and barge into the semifinal round of the 21st Dubai Invitational at the Al Ahli Indoor Stadium here early Thursday.

Mac Baracael, a 24-year-old pride of Pagbilao, Quezon, sizzled with tournament-high 24 points, including a fallaway jumper in the last two minutes that gave the Filipinos the lead for good.

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Skipper Chris Tiu then took over and drained five of his six free throws in the last 14.8 seconds to complete the Nationals' stirring comeback from 15 points down for the victory that set them up against Al Riyadi of Lebanon on Friday (11 p.m. Philippine time).

Al Riyadi, backstopped by three American imports and two naturalized players, turned back Fadi El Khatib and Champville also of Lebanon, 74-67, to clinch the first semis seat.

"The guys played with a big fighting heart," said RP's Serbian coach Rajko Toroman. "We were up from the start then we were down by 15 points and then rallied back and win the game. It's amazing what we're doing in this tournament. I'm very satisfied and very proud of the players."

The Filipinos, whose campaign here is sponsored by Smart and backed by Nike and GMA Pinoy TV, also drew inspiration from more 2,500 OFWs who came to watch and cheer them.