Gilas Pilipinas on verge of SEABA gold after Vietnam win
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippines is now a win away from the 2017 SEABA Championships gold after a 107-52 annihilation of Vietnam on Wednesday, May 17 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum here.
Gilas Pilipinas is now tied at 5-0 with Indonesia and will vie for the gold on Thursday, May 18, in the last match of the tournament.
Matthew Wright exploded for 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting from deep while Raymond Almazan and Calvin Abueva each had 16 points. Almazan and Abueva also split 12 rebounds between them.
For the fifth game in a row, there wasn't much in the way of challenges for the national team, save for their personal battles against complacency and maintaining discipline on both sides of the floor.
"Obviously, it's a competition and the essence of sport is you can never be sure," said head coach Chot Reyes.
"That's why we keep harping on the fact that we shouldn't take anything for granted, and we'd like to think everything we've done at this point is to get us ready for this game tomorrow."
Indonesia has been pegged to be the team that can give Gilas the most trouble in this tournament where the Filipinos are far more superior than their Southeast Asian neighbors.
The anticipated clash also became more appealing with Indonesia's two imports already given the go signal to compete. Jamarr Johnson and Arki Wisnu both saw action for the first time against Myanmar on Wednesday.
It's in the interest of preparation for the two imports that Reyes opted to sit the Philippines' own naturalized big man Andray Blatche against Vietnam. Blatche also tweaked his hamstring on Tuesday but Reyes said he thinks "it was just a mild strain so hopefully he will be 100%."
"From the start, we knew Indonesia is going to be the toughest opponent, so we can only find ourselves here," Reyes said.
"They're getting ready as well and they're raring to go as well. They have a couple of guys who are very, very fresh, that's why we made it a point to rest Andray and get him fresh as well."
While it was the goal to "keep our discipline and retain good habits and not fall into bad habits," Gilas Pilipinas still had potholes in certain stretches where they were lackadaisical with their movements. This led to the Vietnamese taking some advantage.
Thanh Nhan Nguyen topscored for Vietnam with 11 points off the bench, while Van Hung Nguyen and Minh Han Trieu chipped in 9 points apiece.
Vietnam was another overmatched foe for the Philippines, which led to Wednesday night's Filipino crowd making their own entertainment.
During several instances in the second half, the crowd goaded the Vietnamese into forcing shots by prematurely counting down the shot clock – to the amusement of Jayson Castro and even Vietnam's American coach Donte Lavar Hill.
Philippines (107): Wright 19, Abueva 16, Almazan 16, Rosario 12, Jalalon 10, Malicsi 8, Pogoy 7, Castro William 7, Aguilar 5, Romeo 4, Fajardo 3.
Vietnam (52): Nguyen T 11, Nguyen V 9, Trieu 9, Le N 8, Tran 7, Le P 4, Nguyen H 2, Dang 2, To 0.
Quarter scores: 28-16, 53-29, 89-40, 107-52.