The Philippines kicked off its bid for a golden double in the basketball tournament of the 2017 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games on a positive note after Gilas Pilipinas and Perlas Pilipinas won their opening assignments against Thailand and Singapore, respectively, Sunday night.
While it was a walk in the park for Perlas – the country’s women’s team, Gilas Pilipinas found itself in a dogfight against an improved Thailand team, needing all the help it can get at the clutch to escape with an 81-74 victory at the jam-packed MABA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Unlike before, Gilas took control only in the final seconds of the game, erecting a telling 12-3 run to erase a 71-69 Thai lead with over four minutes left and begin its quest for the 18th SEA Games title with a win.
Troy Rosario led the nationals with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Fil-German Christian Standhardinger, who just arrived in Malaysia after his FIBA Asia Cup stint in Lebanon, hardly showed fatigue to finish with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Bobby Ray Parks Jr. added 14 points and four steals, while Kiefer Ravena came up clutch again, scoring four key baskets down the stretch to add up to his 11 points total.
Gilas takes a day-off on Monday before battling Vietnam on Tuesday, August 22 and host Malaysia on Wednesday, August 23.
Naturalized player Jeremy Lamb led Thailand with 17 points and six rebounds but fouled out with still 4:52 left in the game when he tried to stop Parks after committing a turnover. He had five turnovers.
The Thais outshot Gilas from beyond the arc as they banked 10 of their 35 attempts to Gilas’ 6 of 30, but the latter pounced on Thailand’s 23 turnovers, converting them to 29 points to Thailand’s nine.
Gilas started strong to lead Thailand by 10 points after first, but the Thais fought back and entered the final frame trailing by just a point, 60-59.
Earlier, the women’s team began its road to its first SEA games title with an 88-54 drubbing of Singapore.
Led by Afril Bernardino’s double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, Perlas Pilipinas was never actually got threatened by the Singaporeans as it zoomed to a 23-16 lead after first, which it increased to 14 at the break, to 28 after third, and to 34 at the buzzer.
Janine Pontejos added 13 points, while Camille Sambile had 10.
Next on the line for Perlas is Indonesia, who crushed Myanmar in the first game, 94-49. Game is set at 8:15 pm on Monday.