Gilas Pilipinas dumps Vietnam, faces Indonesia for battle of SEABA 2017 supremacy


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MANILA, Philippines - Indonesia beat Myanmar for the lead in the standing earlier today. With this, Gilas Pilipinas will be facing the Indonesians for the gold match tomorrow after eliminating Vietnam, 107-52, and for the tie in the podium on May 17 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Matthew Wright spearheaded the all-Filipino Gilas Squad against Vietnam
Matthew Wright spearheaded the all-Filipino Gilas Squad against Vietnam, shines anew with 19 points and 5/7 3-pt FGs. Photo courtesy of pba.ph
Team Pilipinas started sluggishly yesterday against Thailand on the first quarter. But today, the real Gilas Pilipinas stood up and overwhelmed the Vietnameses in the opener courtesy of Coach Chot Reyes’ new starters: Terrence romeo, Calvin Abueva, Matthew Wright, Troy Rosario and June Mar Fajardo.

Despite of a good start, Calvin Abueva asked Coach Reyes to be subbed out to attend to an injury. Abueva hurried to the locker room while holding his hand. Allen Maliksi went in to replace Abueva and immediately knocked on the door by sinking a three followed by a fastbreak 3-point play.

Vietnam’s star players, Van Hung Nguyen and Thanh Nhan Nguyen did well in closing the gap for their team in the first with a combined effort of 9 markers. Philippines however had a dozen lead 28-16 after the first 10 minutes of the game.

Gilas continued to sizzle offensively as soon as they started the second period. With just couple of minutes gone by, the nationals added 11 more points with Calvin Abueva back on the floor and drained a triple signaling the fans that he’s all well.

Terrific ball distribution and finding the right open man became the primary arsenal of Philippines in the second quarter. Gilas’ glue-tight defense had also limited the Vietnamese ballers to just 13 points in 10 minutes, bringing a 53-29 lead to the locker room for the halftime break.

20 minutes had gone by and Gilas’ naturalized player Andray Blatche didn’t even set his feet on the hard court. As per Gilas management, they’re resting Blatche for a guaranteed match up tomorrow against Indonesia’s Jamaar Johnson who was activated earlier against Myanmar. So Philippines played this game with all Filipino roster.

Japeth Aguilar who was the best player against Thailand continued to fly high and destroyed the rim with his shattering dunks at the start of the third.

Midway of the penultimate quarter, Coach Reyes pulled out all of his players and brought in another unit headed by Jayson Castro alongside with sharp shooter Matthew Wright who owned the three point territory as he entered the floor. It was not only Wright who sniped from the outside, even big man Raymond Almazan made a successful attempt to widen the lead to 45.

After 3 quarters of fantastic all Filipino basketball, Gilas players found themselves up by half-shot-shy for half-a-century points, 89-40.

Jio Jalalon’s tear drop shot from the middle gave his team a 51-point advantage at the start of the final canto.

Coach Reyes had already placed his heavy hitters on the bench and let the young guns play with the aim of protecting their humongous lead and tighten up their defense to prevent a catch-up that might lead to an upset.

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Gilas youngsters did a great job in protecting their margin until they closed the books, 107-52 and marched onto the final battle against another undefeated team, Indonesia headed by ABL veteran Mario Wuysang and reinforcement Jamaar Johnson tomorrow at 7pm at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

--Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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