Gilas Pilipinas edges Singapore, heads to SEA Games basketball finals

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas survived team Singapore’s scary scoring run to edge the latter in their semis duel, 68-60, on August 25, 2017 at the MABA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Christian Standhardinger registered a double-double
Christian Standhardinger registered a double-double: 13 points and 13 rebounds to help Gilas Pilipinas advance in the finals. Photo Credit: GMA News
Christian Standhardinger who looked so fresh despite his consecutive tour of duties at the Jones Cup and FIBA Asia Cup for the past couple of months showed the Singaporeans how tough and formidable Gilas Pilipinas is as he officially opened the semis with strong under the rim baskets and monstrous blocks.

Team Philippines displayed a tough defense that led to offensive onslaught for the early lead of 10-3 under 5 minutes of the opening salvo.

Singapore got stuck in 3 points for more than 8 minutes until Larry Liew sank a three pointer to move their digits. Liew scored 5 more points to cut the Gilas’ margin to just 3, 15-12 after the first 10 minutes of the game.

High-flyer Kobe Paras who played excellent basketball in the last 2 games started the 2nd period with a breakaway tomahawk dunk followed by an acrobatic layup to increase Philippines’ lead to 20.

Singapore’s superstar, Wong Wei Long took over the scoring chores and initiated his team’s comeback and made Gilas scoreless in the last 4 minutes.

Philippines’ shooting percentage drastically went down even from the charity stripes. Coach Jong Uichico wasn’t happy on his team’s 2nd quarter performance as he called a mandatory time out after Singapore caught up 22-21.

Team Captain Kiefer Ravena broke the ice as he scored an and-one to wakeup Gilas from a long hibernation. Big men Troy Rosario and Christian Standhardinger dropped more points and ended the 1st half with a decent 32-24 lead.

Coach Jong Uichico was obviously threatened by Singapore’s scoring run in the 1st half. So he fielded in his 2 top long bombers Baser Amer and Von Pessumal to start the 3rd quarter. However, it was the Fil-German, Christian Standhardinger who exploded in the third to extend the lead to 15.

Gilas’ lead was once again brought down to a single digit through the efforts of Leon Kwek and John Ng. Kwek became a major problem for Team Philippines as he continued to drain more baskets whether from the inside or from the outside and managed to trim the lead 49-42 as the penultimate quarter closed.

Miscues and turnovers hurt Philippines too much as the nationals began their final push in the final quarter. Singapore on the other hand was blessed with multiple open and unguarded shots to close the gap 51-46 with 7:57 remaining in the game clock.

If there was one thing missing in this game for Gilas Pilipinas, it was its three point shooting prowess. Philippines made only 2 three pointers out of 19 attempts in the last 35 minutes.

Mike Tolomia ended the three point drought at the 4:10 mark of the fourth to escalate Gilas’ lead to 12. Tolomia was eventually Philippines’ hero of the last quarter.

Less than a minute to go and Philippines led Singapore by 8, 64-56. Baser Amer made it a double-digit lead as he made 2 for 2 at the foul line to secure the first finals spot.

Singapore however didn’t go down without swinging and still poured some good shots to lower the margin during the dying seconds of the ballgame.

At the final buzzer of the game, Philippines marches to the finals, 68-60.

August 26 UPDATE: Gilas Pilipinas will face Indonesia in the men's basketball finals tonight after the latter's tough match against Thailand on Friday.

-- Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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