MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas proved worthy of the hype as heavy favorites in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games after toying with Singapore, 110-58, at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday, December 4.
Parading an all-pro lineup after several editions of sending a team of collegiate players, the Philippines needed only the maiden quarter to pull away as it got off to a hot start in its bid for a 13th straight gold medal.
Stanley Pringle caught fire early, pouring in 11 of his 14 points in the opening period that saw the Filipinos take a massive 30-13 lead en route to the 52-point rout.
Pringle could not be stopped by the Singaporeans as he shot a perfect 5-of-5 clip from the field in 18 minutes of play and added 5 assists.
Matthew Wright also helped set the tone for the Philippines after draining 3 straight three-pointers in the initial frame before June Mar Fajardo, Troy Rosario, and Vic Manuel took over in the second half.
Rosario topscored for the Philippines with 15 points to go with 8 rebounds and 3 assists, while Manuel pumped in 14 points on a healthy 7-of-9 shooting in just 10 minutes – both off the bench.
Wright had 13 points and 5 assists as Fajardo – quiet in the first half – found his groove in the final two quarters where he scored 8 of his 12 points.
Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter each contributed 9 points in the win as Chris Ross and LA Tenorio made their presence felt in another facet of the game by conjoining for half of the Philippines' 38 assists.
The lopsided victory sent a strong message to the rest of Gilas Pilipinas' opposition in Group A, but head coach Tim Cone felt they could still improve.
"It's fun coaching such a powerhouse team, no doubt about it, but I don't think we played our best basketball tonight," Cone told reporters.
"We'll get more comfortable with each other. You can see the display of talent on the floor, guys can shoot it, guys can push the ball on the floor."
Singapore struggled offensively throughout, committing as many turnovers as it dished out assists with 12 each with only Wei Mengleon Kwek its only player in double figures with 10 points.
Gilas Pilipinas will face Vietnam on Friday, December 6, at the same venue. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.