May 21, 2022

Staying perfect through 5 games, Nationals now look for finisher vs Indonesians

AND it comes down to one final game for Gilas Pilipinas - the final push to complete a projected 14th straight championship for the Philippines in SEA Games men's basketball.

The Filipinos warmed up for D-Day with an 87-44 rout of Malaysia at the Thanh Tri District Sporting Hall before Saturday noon in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Barring an upset loss by Indonesia against Vietnam later in the day, the Filipinos and the Indonesians meet in a virtual championship match on the final day of Hanoi competitions Sunday.

Game time is at 3 p.m. (4 p.m. in Manila) with coach Chot Reyes and his troops looking to complete a six-game sweep in the tourney and nail a 19th gold medal overall for the Philippines in 21 stagings of men's basketball in the regional biennial meet.

Going to their match with the Vietnamese, the Indonesians were sporting a 4-0 mark, determined to have a shot at the title versus Gilas.

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Indonesia was runner-up to the Philippines in 2015 and 2017 before missing a podium finish in Manila in 2019. But the Indonesians have regrouped, elevating Rajko Toroman as technical director while topping Serbian countryman Milo Pejic to map out plan for a shot at Hanoi glory.

The program for Team Indonesia includes a bid to qualify for the 2023 FIBA World Cup where Indonesia shares with the Philippines and Japan the hosting chores.

All these are not lost on Gilas.

And the Gilas coach is taking the Indonesians with a lot of caution.

Thirdy Ravena poured in a game-high 17 points with RR Pogoy coming through with nine markers and 10 boards in Gilas' warmup for the Indonesia game.
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"We really treated this game as preparation for tomorrow's match against Indonesia. Our focus was just to make sure to keep our level high. Unfortunately, we didn't start off that way. It wasn't a good start as we wanted," said the Gilas coach after their 43-point thrashing of the Malaysians.

The Nationals even trailed in the early minutes but seized the lead, 19-10, at the end of the opening frame.

They took the half at 39-22, and it was practically all Gilas in the last 20 minutes of the contest. (SB)