SEA Games: Gilas Pilipinas survives Indonesia, books ticket to finals vs. Thailand

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas had hard time beating Rajko Toroman-led Team Indonesia, 97-70 but still booked a finals ticket against Thailand in the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games men’s basketball on Monday, December 9, 2019 at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

Even without a naturalized player, Indonesia looked so dangerous coming into the SEA Games semifinals. Rajko Toroman, Gilas’ former head coach, is calling the shots for the Indonesian team and the reason why Philippines didn’t take its rival lightly.

Just like in the quarterfinals, Team Pilipinas started strong but the opponents caught up and kept the first quarter close.

Stanley Pringle led his squad offensively while Christian Standhardinger and Japeth Aguilar took care of everything under the basket.

June Mar Fajardo who sat down against Myanmar, entered the floor with over 4 minutes in the first. The moment he stepped in the court, “The Kraken” became unstoppable in the shaded lane.

The Filipino cagers relaxed a little bit defensively and the Indonesian took advantage of it to shorten the gap at the end of the 1st quarter, 24-20.

Aside from a sloppy defense, Philippines’ kept on missing from the free throw line and carried it on to the 2nd period.

Matthew Wright played so well in the quarterfinals with 8 three pointers, but the Phoenix star was shooting blanks together with SMB skipper Marcio Lassiter tonight.

Not only Indonesia was doing well from the outside, its defense was also terrific and limited Philippines under 50 points in the first half.

Philippines was ahead at the half but not really in total control as the Filipinos led the Indonesian by 11 markers, 39-28.

Indonesia continued to rain triples in the 3rd period with 3 consecutive threes that lowered the margin more.

Gilas Pilipinas came back alive midway of the penultimate quarter as Chris Ross and Matthew Wright finally found their rhythm from the rainbow arc and posted its 20-point lead for the first time in the game.

Gilas Rookie Chris Ross sparked a scoring run in the third quarter
Gilas Rookie Chris Ross sparked a scoring run in the third quarter to bring the Philippines to the finals versus Thailand | Photo Credit: ABS-CBN News

Marcio Lassiter caught fire from the three point territory and joined the shooting spree as well to give Gilas a 78-45 advantage entering the final quarter.

Philippines’ golden touch from the outside abruptly diminished in the fourth and the nationals had been committing turnovers that paved the way for Indonesia to catch up little by little.

Despite Indonesia’s scoring run, Coach Tim Cone opted to play his 2nd unit with few more minutes left.

As the final buzzer sounded, Gilas Pilipinas remained unblemished and marched on to the finals after denying Indonesia 97-70.

Philippines will renew its rivalry versus another regional powerhouse Team Thailand in the finals on Tuesday, December 10, 2019.

In spite of the loss, Indonesia will still have a chance to grab a medal if it survives Vietnam in the battle for third.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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