Gilas Pilipinas wards off gritty Malaysia ahead of SEA Games basketball knockout stages

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The Philippine national men’s basketball team warded off a hard-fighting Malaysian squad, 98-66, to remain unbeaten heading into the knockout stages of the 2017 Southeast Asian Games basketball competition on Wednesday at MABA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Christian Standhardinger led Gilas Pilipinas with a double-double of 18 points and 18 rebounds while Kobe Paras added 16 points and eight boards.

Troy Rosario and Kiefer Ravena each chipped in 12 markers apiece as Baser Amer contributed 10 points.

Gilas Pilipinas had to overcome a sluggish start and some chippy plays from the Malaysians before coming up with the blowout.

The Filipinos had a sloppy start to the game, committing eight turnovers against the energetic Malaysians who stunned Gilas Pilipinas by leading 20-15 in the first period.

Gilas Pilipinas got its bearings back, unleashing a 17-4 run to grab a 40-27 lead.

The hosts were still hanging tough against the Filipinos in the third quarter when a scuffle erupted between the two teams after a highly physical sequence which saw Amer exchange heated blows with some Malaysians.

Amer and Carl Bryan Cruz, who was away from the main action as he tried to pacify other players in the situation, were ejected from the game. Curiously, no one from Malaysia was thrown out.

But that only lit up the Filipinos who, after that incident, dropped a 16-4 bomb to end the third quarter with a huge 73-46 advantage that was enough to stave off Malaysia.

Gilas Pilipinas, now 3-0 after also beating Thailand and Myanmar earlier, takes a break on Thursday and returns to action on Friday for the knockout semifinals.