Philippines rips Thailand late to become 2016 SEABA Cup champs

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippines banked on a crucial surge in the fourth quarter to pull away from the dangerous Thailand for good and win the 2016 SEABA Stankovic Cup championship, 97-80, on Saturday, May 28 at Stadium 29 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Philippines, which swept the week-long tournament, now qualifies for the 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge this September in Iran. It is the first step in qualifying for the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup.

After a close first half, the Gilas cadets led by as much as 11 points in the third quarter only to see it get whittled down to 3 early in the fourth.

But Mac Belo took over and went on a solo 8-0 run highlighted by back-to-back cold-blooded 3-pointers – his only two attempts of the ballgame – and Jio Jalalon added a jumper of his own to make it a 13-point advantage with 5:41 remaining. The Philippines cruised to the blowout from there.

Six Filipinos finished in double figures with team captain Troy Rosario leading the charge with 17 points including 7 rebounds and 3 assists. He shined brightest in the third frame in another run that helped the cadets create separation.

Jalalon showcased his playmaking and highlight-reel moves to end up with 16 markers, 7 boards, and 3 dimes as well. Belo had 14 points, 4 rebounds, and two steals, while Mike Tolomia and RR Pogoy had 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Almond Vosotros sizzled in the first half, going 3-of-3 from 3-point range, to tally 11 points and 4 rebounds.

The Philippines won only its second championship in the tournament held every two years after missing the 2014 edition.

Singapore finished in third place after second placers Thailand.

Chitchai Ananti had a game-high 19 points with 4-of-8 makes from downtown but the Thais, who had 10 3-pointers in the game against the Filipinos' 12, lost composure in the end. They failed to capitalize on momentum coming off a strong elimination round duel that left the Philippines hanging by a 66-65 victory. –