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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Gilas Pilipinas’ path to Southeast Asian Games redemption hit an early snag.
The Filipinos were given a dose of reality as they suffered a shocking 79-68 loss to a Cambodian side featuring five naturalized players from the United States at the Morodok Techo Sports Complex here on Thursday, May 11.
A lethargic start proved to be the Philippines’ undoing as Cambodia – bannered by Darrin Dorsey, Sayeed Pridgett, Brandon Peterson, Dwayne Morgan, and Darius Henderson – raced to a 26-14 lead and never looked back.
Dorsey, one-third of the trio that won Cambodia the men’s 3×3 basketball gold, torched the Filipinos with 22 points on top of 7 assists and 4 rebounds.
Christian Standhardinger showed the way in the loss with a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double as Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player Justin Brownlee failed to find his mark.
Brownlee went scoreless in the first half and finished with just 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting for the Philippines, which fell to 1-1 in Group A.
Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes said the sweltering Cambodian heat kept the three-time PBA Best Import from being his usual self.
“I thought it was just a terrible first half for us because you saw what happened,” said Reyes, whose wards trailed 31-47 at halftime.
“Brownlee could not move, really dehydrated. The heat really got to him. But later on, he felt better, but then he was cramping already because he lost a lot of fluid.”
Fresh from a 45-point thrashing of Malaysia two days prior, the Filipinos were expected to give Cambodia – tipped to contend for the gold following the entry of its naturalized stars – a reality check.
The hosts, though, backed up the hype behind five double-digit scorers, with Pridgett backstopping Dorsey with 17 points and 7 rebounds and Henderson and Peterson both posting 11 points and 9 rebounds.
Chris Newsome was the only other Gilas Pilipinas player in twin figures with 11 points as they failed to get within single digits in the fourth quarter.
But even with the result beyond doubt, drama filled the endgame after Cambodia head coach Harry Savaya called a timeout with 20 seconds remaining.
The move – considered disrespectful – touched a nerve among Filipinos, with the likes of Chris Ross, Arvin Tolentino, and even assistant coach Tim Cone confronting Savaya before cooler heads prevailed.
Gilas Pilipinas needs to beat Singapore on Saturday, May 13, to advance to the knockout stage, with the top two teams from each of the two groups qualifying for the semifinals.
Cambodia 79 – Dorsey 22, Pridgett 17, Lopes 13, Peterson 11, Henderson 11, Ravuth 3, Morgan 2.
Philippines 68 – Standhardinger 14, Newsome 11, Brownlee 10, Perez 9, Tolentino 5, Lassiter 4, Phillips 4, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Lastimosa 4, Amos 3, Ross 0.
Quarters: 26-14, 47-31,66-46, 79-68.