MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Women defended their crown in the Southeast Asian Games despite wrapping up their campaign in Vietnam with a heartbreaking 93-96 loss to Malaysia on Sunday, May 22.
The Philippines concluded the tournament with a 4-1 record to retain the historic women’s basketball gold it won in the 2019 SEA Games.
Indonesia can finish with an identical 4-1 card, although the Philippines holds the tiebreaker as the Filipinas clobbered the Indonesians in a 93-77 victory at the start of the tournament.
Janine Pontejos starred with 18 points and 6 rebounds, but the loss put to waste a superb fourth-quarter comeback she and her fellow veteran Afril Bernardino engineered.
Malaysia led 81-75 with eight minutes left before Pontejos caught fire, draining all of her three triples and scoring 11 points in an 18-5 blast.
Bernardino chalked up 4 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal during that stretch as Gilas Women seized a 93-86 advantage.
However, Yap Fook Yee pulled Malaysia within two possessions, 88-93, and Trina Guytingco missed three crucial shots in the final two minutes that proved costly for the Philippines.
Sent to the free throw line, Guytingco muffed both of her foul shots and missed a jumper off a Chack Cabinbin offensive rebound as Malaysia knotted the score at 93-93 behind Yap and Lee Phei Ling.
Chong Yin Yin then put Malaysia on the front seat with booming three-pointer, which Gilas Women failed to answer even with 17 seconds left for the final shot.
Bernardino finished with 16 points, 7 rebounds, 7 steals, and 3 blocks, Gabi Bade churned out 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals, while Ella Fajardo tallied 12 points.
“I congratulate Malaysia. They still had that heart to play the game. Even though they were down, we really had a hard time. They were making shots,” said Gilas Women coach Pat Aquino.
“I still tip my hat off for the girls. They played their hearts out. It’s just not as sweet as we want it to be. But we are still gold medalists. I’m so proud of them having that feat.”
Cabinbin and Angelica Surada netted 10 points apiece in the loss.
Yap and Chong chalked up 25 points each to lead Malaysia, which bolstered its bid for a podium spot by improving to 3-2.
Malaysia 96 – Yap 25, Chong 25, Pang 21, Saw 10, Toh 7, Foo 6, Lee 2, Low 0, Tan 0, Lee 0.
Philippines 93 – Pontejos 18, Bernardino 16, Bade 13, Fajardo 12, Cabinbin 10, Surada 10, Castillo 5, Clarin 3, Tongco 3, Berberabe 2, Guytingco 1, Castro 0.
Quarters: 25-28, 58-54, 77-71, 96-93.