MANILA, Philippines – What was anticipated to be a tight, do-or-die semifinal match turned out to be a walk in the park for Team Gilas Pilipinas as the Nationals shredded Indonesia, 97-70, Monday night before an appreciative partisan crowd at the MOA Arena, Pasay City.
With the win, the Philippines secured a seat for gold in the finals opposite top seed Thailand.
The battle for gold between the two countries starts at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday (10 December 2019) also at the MOA Arena.
Team Gilas Pilipinas is favored against Thailand as the Philippines is considered to have a stranglehold on the SEA Games basketball event.
It harvested the gold 17 times out of 19 in the biennial regional sporting meet.
Nevertheless, the Thais also topped Group B with a three-game sweep in the eliminations and are aiming for their first-ever title in the history of the biennial meet.
Earlier on the day Monday, Thailand defeated Vietnam for its fourth straight win, a similar feat achieved by Gilas in the eliminations round.
Gilas had actually the game decided as early as the end of the third quarter.
The Philippines was already ahead by 20 points, 65-45, before Danny Pringle, Jun Mar Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter combined for a 13-0 tear through the final three minutes of the third canto.
And there it stood and decided as early as that, 78-45.
The game marked the first-time team Gilas faced former head coach Rajko Toroman who is now handling the Indons.
The Philippines finished Group A with a 3-0 record, followed by Vietnam at 2-1. Singapore finished 1-2 while Myanmar finished the preliminary round 0-3.
Thailand paced Group B with 3-0 slate followed by Indonesia with 2-1 record. Malaysia had 1-2 card and Cambodia 0-3.
Last Saturday, Gilas also had romp as it cruised past Myanmar, 136-67, that set up a semifinal matchup against Indonesia and former Gilas coach Rajko Toroman who acknowledged the newest composition of Gilas Pilipinas under Tim Cone that is better than the squad that went winless at the FIBA World Cup in China.
“They have chemistry, they have quality, they have a new coach,” said Toroman said. “I don’t think the team in the World Cup had chemistry. Maybe they had more individual quality … with [Andray] Blatche, but when Blatche is not there, well, this team has a special chemistry.” (IAMIGO/CNS)