SEABA 2017: Gilas Pilipinas ousts Thailand, 108-53


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MANILA, Philippines - Gilas started slow due to a day off but picked up its rhythm and ousted Team Thailand, 108-53, in the 2017 SEABA Championship on May 16 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Japeth Aguilar played a terrific basketball with 23 points and 10/10 field goals.
Japeth Aguilar played a terrific basketball with 23 points and 10/10 field goals. Photo Credit: Inquirer
Many basketball experts believed that the real test for Gilas Pilipinas started tonight when the boys faced another familiar regional rival Team Thailand. The Thais admitted that Philippines is really a strong team and they will need to ramp up their A game to AAA in order to beat the Filipinos. A rumor even circulated that the Thai Team management set a 10 Million Baht incentive if they beat Gilas Pilipinas. Whether it’s true or not, Team Pilipinas will not allow that to happen for it needs to beat everyone in order to qualify to the Asian Basketball Championships.

For the fourth time, Coach Chot Reyes used Blatche, Fajardo, Maliksi, Pogoy and Castro as his starters. His decision paid off earlier as Allein Maliksi and Jayson Castro opened the scoreboard with a three and two respectively.

The day off which Gilas cagers took yesterday fired back in terms of defensive boards. Philippines gave Thailand a handful of offensive rebounds that awarded the Thais a taste of lead 8-7 over 5 minutes remaining in the first. Andray Blatche and June Mar Fajardo however, managed to take back the lead.

Leewat Chanchachon kept on piling his numbers to keep the margin as close as possible. He had already recorded 11 points with 2 more minutes left in the opener.

Truly, the real battle had just began for Philippines. After the first 10 minutes of the game, Gilas was just up by 4, 18-14 and was shooting poorly from the outside, 1/9 which is very unusual in this tournament. In the first 3 games, Philippines was averaging 30 assists. But for this quarter, Gilas only had 3 while its counterpart had already booked 6 dimes.

“Laro na, nilalaro nyo pa.” This was Coach Reyes’ impactful comment on Gilas boys’ style of 1st quarter basketball during the break. With this said, the nationals absorbed Reyes’ words as a wake-up call and shook their dust off and instantly played a terrific ball. Japeth Aguilar initiated the run that started with a monster block and a thunderous two-handed jam followed by Calvin Abueva’s rare 4-point play.

Japeth Aguilar who entered in the early part of the second, made a huge difference in Gilas’ run. He became a threat in both sides of the floor. With 15 points and 2 block shots, Aguilar gave Coach Chot a sigh of relief with 51-26 at the end of the first half.

Aguilar didn’t slow down even just a bit. He started the penultimate quarter with a follow-up slam off Andray Blatche’s three point attempt. The best part was: He was 10/10 with 6 more minutes remaining in the third.

Rookie Guard Roger Pogoy and veteran Jayson Castro pushed the lead to 30, 69-39. While Japeth Aguilar and Andray Blatche continued to swat shots.

At the 3-minute mark, Coach Chot pulled out Aguilar and company and replaced them all with Romeo, Abueva, Rosario, Fajardo and Wright. Terrence Romeo didn’t waste any time and opportunity as he bagged back-to-back treys. Quarter three ended in a tune of 80-43 in favor of Gilas Pilipinas.

Terrence Romeo sustained his waxing hot hands onto the final 10 minutes of the ball game. Silently, PBA’s scoring Champion had already tallied 11 markers with 6 more minutes remaining.

Momentum had really shifted to Philippines. Thailand played the last 2 quarters disorganized and kept on turning the ball over. Wutipong Daysom who fired 40 points yesterday against Myanmar was scoreless until the final minute in this ball game. Daysom had a tournament low of 2 points in 4 outings.

Gilas Pilipinas for the fourth time reached the century mark on the 2-minute warning and closed the books 108-53. With the win, Philippines is now sitting on top of the ladder together with Team Indonesia which also has an immaculate 4-0 win-loss record.

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Gilas will be facing Vietnam tomorrow at 7 p.m. in preparation for the gold medal battle against the co-leader Indonesia which activated its naturalized player Jamaar Johnson as he got his clearance to play from FIBA together with Indonesian-American Arki Wisnu.

--Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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