As expected, Gilas Pilipinas thrashes Myanmar in SEABA 2017 opener

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – 107 points.

That's how much Gilas Pilipinas led and won against neighbors Myanmar in their 147-40 opening day victory in the 2017 SEABA men's championship on Friday, May 12 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Philippine national men's basketball team is a favorite underdog in almost every international competition – a side that utilizes speed and wit to compensate for lack of height against the giants of world basketball. Being the little guy is part of the team's charm to Filipinos at home and abroad.

But in this tournament, in this region, Gilas and even its younger cadet squads have been the dominant force for many years, and so it was unsurprising that they finished off their foes in the first quarter.

This meant the dynamics and expectations from the coaching staff were slightly different.

"The only thing that we were really concerned about were our hustle numbers, we weren't worried about our points, rebounds, assists," said head coach Chot Reyes.

"I told the players that a lot of times in international competition tayo ang dehado (we're the underdogs) it's very rare that we come into a game na tayo ang lyamado (that we have the upperhand), so would we play with the same kind of intensity and effort even if you are the favored team? That was the question we posed before the players before the game."

Gilas, flanked by naturalized center Andray Blatche, breached the 100-point lead with under 3 minutes remaining on an RR Pogoy basket.

All but 3 Filipinos finished in double figures with Calvin Abueva leading the way on 22 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals.

Allein Maliksi added 20 markers while Pogoy came up with 17 points.

The Philipines shot 64% from the field and knocked down 11 triples. They also registered 25 steals and 12 blocks – indicators of the team's effort.

Only one player from Myanmar made it to double digits, Aung Wana, who tallied 12 points including two treys.

Myanmar gave up 38 turnovers and had only 8 assists for the entire ballgame.

The game was well in hand as early as early in the second quarter, when Gilas led by 50-9, that the home crowd ended up applauding every made Myanmar basket.

The Philippines, however, showed tendencies of playing to the level of its opponent in a number of sloppy plays and botched easy shots throughout the contest.

The host country is gunning for nothing less than the gold in order to qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup in August and the Asian Qualifiers by November.

The team with the best record will win this tournament. 

Gilas next faces Singapore on Saturday at 7 pm.

Scores:

Philippines (147): Abueva 22, Maliksi 20, Pogoy 17, Fajardo 14, Jalalon 13, Rosario 13, Wright 12, Aguilar 11, Blatche 11, Almazan 6, Romeo 6, Castro 2.

Myanmar (40): Wana 12, Aung M 8, Zaya 6, Aung P 3, Tin 3, Kaung 2, Thant 2, Sei 2, Sai 2, Thein T 0, Thein H 0, Wai 0.

Quarter scores: 32-7, 66-12, 110-29, 147-40.

– Rappler.com