THE Philippines once again punctuated its standing as king of Southeast Asian basketball as Gilas Pilipinas topped the 2017 SEABA Men’s Championship by beating Indonesia, 97-64, in the de facto finals last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
A battle of unbeaten teams in the marquee regional basketball tournament, the Philippines stamped its class on an Indonesian side which created waves during the week-long tournament.
The win gave Gilas Pilipinas the best record in the tournament of 6-0 to formally book its ticket for the FIBA Asia Cup happening in Beirut, Lebanon, in August.
In the SEABA, no championship match is played with the team with the most wins at the end of the tournament declared the winner.
Much like what they had displayed throughout the tournament, the Gilas players banked on their depth and explosiveness collectively to dispatch the Indonesians.
The two teams had a brief feeling-out period early in the contest, exchanging baskets before Gilas Pilipinas, led by Andray Blatche, June Mar Fajardo and Jayson Castro, pulled away and claimed a 34-14 lead at the end of the first period.
In the second canto, Gilas Pilipinas found itself in a tougher battle with the Indonesians, which jacked up their defense.
The nationals, however, would bust loose as the quarter drew to a close to maintain a comfortable lead of 21 points, 51-30.
Gilas Pilipinas continued to roll in the third period as its three-pointers went crisp to extend its lead to 78-47.
The Philippines opened the payoff period with a thunderous alley-oop dunk by Japeth Aguilar which set the tone for the team as it sailed to the title-clinching win.
Mr. Blatche led the way for Gilas with a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Mr. Castro had 14 points and seven assists while Mr. Fajardo finished with 13 points.
Indonesia, for its part, was paced by Arki Dikania Wisnu’s 11 and Mario Wuysang’s 10 points.
“I think we had a solid group for this tournament. Everybody played their part and competed the way we envisioned them to,” said champion Gilas coach Chot Reyes in summing up their SEABA campaign.
The latest SEABA conquest of the Philippines is its eighth title out of a possible 12, including the last two.
The team now focuses on the FIBA Asia Cup and the Asian World Cup qualifiers where it is bracketed in Group B along with Japan, Chinese-Taipei and Australia.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Batang Gilas Pilipinas won the SEABA Under-16 title by beating Malaysia, 83-62, in their own battle of unbeaten teams.
With its fourth straight U16 tournament title also came qualification for the team for the FIBA Asia U16 Championship later this year.