Games Thursday (Mall of Asia Arena)
12 noon – Cambodia vs Thailand (Men’s)
2:15 p.m. – Vietnam vs Singapore (Men’s)
6 p.m. – Philippines vs Indonesia (Women’s)
8:15 p.m. – Indonesia vs Malaysia (Men’s)
By WAYLON GALVEZ
As expected, it was a blowout win for Gilas Pilipinas.
Despite limited preparation time, it didn’t take long for the national team to display its strength as the Filipinos pummeled Singapore with a masterful 110-58 win at the start of basketball action in the 30th Southeast Asian Games Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Troy Rosario led a balanced attack for the national team with 15 points off the bench, while Vic Manuel – in his first stint with the national team – and Stanley Pringle contributed 14 points apiece.
Gilas mentor Tim Cone pointed to the defensive effort the players displayed following a rough start on the offensive end. Overall, the national team converted nearly 60 percent of its shots while holding Singapore to below 33 percent shooting from the field.
“I think this team will get better. We’ll become a better team. We’ll be more coordinated defensively,” said Cone, who had less than two months to prepare the squad for the biennial meet.
“When Chris Ross (at the start of the game) blocked the shot of one of their best players, that kind of sent the message that we’re out here to play defense. We know we’re going to be a great offensive team, but the thing we demanded on them is play better on defense.”
Mengleon Kwek Wei led Vietnam with 10 points.
From 30-13, the Nationals – playing in Group A – started to pull away in the second period to take a commanding 48-28 advantage at halftime break.
Ross was scoreless as he missed his single field goal attempt but his almost 20 minutes of play had him issue 10 assists with five rebounds. Matthew Wright had 13 points while June Mar Fajardo – the reigning five-time PBA Most Valuable Player – added 12 points.
Despite the 52-point win, Cone said he’s not expecting too much that the next matches of Gilas would result to easy wins. He said that the next games would be tougher – especially during in the knockout stage.
“It’s a real honor and to coach such a high powered team,” said Cone. “But we want to make sure that we respect the game, and play right way. No fooling around, we’re not trash talking our opponents.”
The national team takes a break Thursday, and then returns to action on Friday versus Vietnam.
In the history of the regional meet, the Philippines ruled the SEA Games basketball event 17 out of 19 times. The only setback came in 1979 and 1989 both against the Malaysians.
The event was not included in 2005, when the country hosted the SEA Games but the local basketball federation was suspended at that time by FIBA, while in 2009, the lack of facility in Laos forced organizers to drop basketball in the calendar of events.
Meantime, Thailand – bronze medalist two years ago in the SEA Games – also hammered a convincing win against SEA Games silver medalist Indonesia 98-76 in Group B action.
Leelapipalkul led the Thais with 18 points, while Tyler Lamb added 16 points and Ananti Chitchai had 14 points.
In the first game, Vietnam’s Tam Dinh Thanh and An Du Minh combined for 46 points to power their team to a 131-52 win over Myanmar. Phu Vinh Nguyen Huynh contributed 15 points and 12 rebounds.
In women’s action, 2017 SEA Games silver medalist Thailand opened its campaign with a 70-47 triumph against defending champion Malaysia. Christine Bias Tiffany led Thailand with 24 points.
The women’s national team will see action Thursday against Indonesia to start it own campaign in this SEA Games.
PHILIPPINES 110 – Rosario 15, Manuel 14, Pringle 14, Wright 13, Fajardo 12, Slaughter 9, Aguilar 9, Standhardinger 8, Lassiter 7, Ravena 6, Tenorio 3, Ross 0.
SINGAPORE 58 – B Wei M. K. 10, Kok 8, Qing 8, Zhong 8, Wei L. W. 6, V Lavin 5, Vignesh 4, Lary 3, Isaac 0, Xingyuan 0, Chin 0.
Quarters: 30-13; 48-28; 77-48; 110-58.