MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas’ decades-long reign as kings of the Southeast Asian Games has come to a screeching halt.
The Philippines fell short of capturing a 14th straight SEA Games gold after absorbing a shocking 81-85 loss to vastly improved Indonesia at the Thanh Tri Gymnasium in Hanoi on Sunday, May 22.
Indonesia finished the round-robin tournament with a perfect 6-0, while the Philippines ended its campaign with a 5-1 record to settle for a men’s basketball silver for the first time since 1989.
The presence of former NBA player Marques Bolden, Brandon Jawato, and Derrick Michael Xzavierro proved to be the difference as Indonesia made it rain from deep on the way to its first-ever men’s basketball gold.
Matthew Wright and June Mar Fajardo carried the scoring load for Gilas Pilipinas with 23 and 20 points, respectively, but the Filipinos shot themselves in the foot with their inconsistent free throw shooting.
The Philippines missed one-third of its foul shots – going 24-of-32 at the line – and also struggled from long range by making just 3 of its 16 three-point attempts.
Wright drained a triple with 40 ticks left to pull Gilas Pilipinas within a single possession, 79-81, but missed his game-tying floater as Indonesia escaped behind Bolden and Abraham Grahita.
Chalking up 17 points, Grahita gave Indonesia an 83-79 lead by sinking his free throws with less than 10 seconds remaining before Bolden sealed the upset with another pair of foul shots.
Bolden, who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, showed the way for Indonesia with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks despite battling foul trouble.
The defeat only reinforced the fact that other nations in the region are catching up with the Philippines in the sport that it used to dominate in the SEA Games.
For context, Gilas Pilipinas won by a staggering average of 44.6 points in its 2019 SEA Games gold conquest.
The Philippines, after a close win against Thailand, still clobbered Cambodia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Malaysia in this edition, but the Indonesians exploited the Filipinos’ weakness by winning the three-point battle.
Fajardo frolicked inside the paint in the third quarter and put Gilas Pilipinas ahead 60-54, but Jawato sank a pair of triples in a 9-0 run – all from beyond the arc – as Indonesia seized a 63-60 lead going into the final frame.
By the time the third period ended, Indonesia already drained 12 three-pointers, while the Philippines sank just 1 triple.
An Asian import in the Japan B. League, Jawato churned out 11 points, while 19-year-old Xzavierro – a product of the NBA Global Academy – put up 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
Indonesia also kept its cards close to its chest by choosing to sideline Bolden early in the tournament before it unleashed the naturalized player against the Philippines.
Bolden sat out their first four games and played just 5 minutes against Vietnam a day before their Gilas Pilipinas clash, where he logged in 32 minutes.
Thirdy Ravena posted 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals in the loss as he missed out on his first SEA Games title, while his brother Kiefer Ravena saw the end of his five consecutive SEA Games gold streak.
Indonesia 85 – Bolden 18, Grahita, 17, Xzavierro 14, Jawato 11, Goantara 11, Prastawa 8, Kokodiputra 5, Saputera 1, Kosasih 0, Wisnu 0.
Philippines – Wright 23, Fajardo 20, T. Ravena 17, Rosario 12, Ravena 9, Montalbo 0, Tautuaa 0, Pogoy 0.
Quarters: 18-14, 36-32, 63-60, 85-81.