Sinag Pilipinas defeats Thailand for crown, reasserts SEA Games cage dominance

Sinag Pilipinas forward Chris Ellis (R) hangs on the rim as Cliff Hodge follows suit in the 2011 Southeast Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. AFP

JAKARTA – Just as expected, the Philippine men’s basketball team reasserted its dominance in the Southeast Asian Games, emerging as gold medal winner for the 20th year in the biennial meet.

On Sunday night, the Filipinos subdued Thailand, 85-57, at the BritAma Arena here, a win that cemented the country’s status as perennial champions of the sport in this region.

Greg Slaughter finished with 16 points and eight rebounds while Ray Parks contributed 15 points, six assists and five boards for the Filipinos, who have been champions of SEA Games men’s basketball since 1991.

This year’s edition of Pilipinas squad was composed of top amateur players and handled by multi-titled mentor Norman Black, a rookie coach in the SEA Games level.

But Black, a 10-time champion coach in the Philippine Basketball Association and the head of four-time defending UAAP champion Ateneo in the UAAP, did a fine job of honing the team, whose players sacrificed their egos to achieve a common goal: win the gold in the 26th Southeast Asian Games.

Chris Tiu, the team captain of the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national squad, agreed to play backup to youngsters Parks and Kiefer Ravena with the Sinag squad.

Ryan Roose Garcia, a former Most Valuable Player in the UAAP, didn’t mind coming off the bench for the Philippine quintet, while the rest of the stars also set aside their personal objectives and submitted themselves to the team’s system which emphasized sharing the ball.

“I think one of the good things we learned in our stint in the SEA Games was that we were able to become unselfish. The players were sharing the basketball and were having fun while winning games,” said Black, who coachedthe 1994 Philippine squad to the Hiroshima Asian Games.

Ravena, whose dad Bong played for the RP team that won the gold medal in the Manila SEA Games in 1991, triggered the Sinag squad’s breakaway.

Two straight baskets from him and a putback by Slaughter gave the Sinag squad a 54-29 lead half way the third period.

The Thais didn’t recover from there.

The scores:

Philippines (85) – Slaughter 16, Parks 15, Garcia 12, Ravena 10, Monfort 8, Tiu 6, Marcelo 6,  Pascual 5, Hodge 5, Salva 2, Ellis 0.

Thailand (57) – Kaedum 17, Sangthong 11, Lertmalaiporn 11, kongkum 8, Apiromvilachai 6, Klahan 2, Ghogar 2, Jantuma 0, Kruatiwa 0.

Quarterscores: 21-17; 44=25; 61-42; 85-57

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