JAKARTA — Despite scoring 35 points in the first quarter against Cambodia, Norman Black was unhappy with the Sinag Pilipinas national team’s performance.
Tightening up the screws in the second half, the Philippine team breezed past Cambodia, 127-68, to start its 26th Southeast Asian Games men’s basketball campaign on a winning note on Monday at the BritAma Arena.
The Filipinos shot 71% from the field while holding Cambodia to 35% shooting in the rout. Sinag Pilipinas topped the opening day performance of the 2007 SEA Games edition of the national team, which also defeated Cambodia in its opener, 136-82.
Having been together for only two weeks, chemistry hasn’t been established fully by the Pinoy cagers.
“They only get the feel of the game and play through their instincts,” said team manager Butch Antonio. “But once we get the rebounds and they allow us to run, they’re dead.”
And run the Philippines did.
The Philippines’ fastbreak game was anchored on second-generation players Kiefer Ravena and Ray Parks, who both had a field day scoring off transition. Together as a team, the Filipinos got 12 fastbreak points and 21 points off the Cambodians’ 19 turnovers.
UAAP Rookie of the Year Ravena led seven players in double figures for Sinag Pilipinas with 17 points. RR Garcia (16 points), Garvo Lanete (15), Nico Salva (14), Chris Ellis (12), Dave Marcelo (12), and Parks (10) also contributed to the furious Philippine assault.
“We’re focused on our execution, but we’re hoping we can play moré aggressive defensively in our game against Vietnam,” said Ravena, who played for the Philippine youth team coached by Eric Altamirano that won the SEABA Under-18 tournament.
Ravena had a breakaway dunk and a transition basket off a feed from Garcia, giving the Filipinos a sizeable 77-46 advantage, 5:03 left in the third period.
The Cambodians didn’t recover from that Philippine run.
Naturalized players Oeun Sophoeun and Mith Pek finished with 24 points apiece while another foreign-born cager, Thach Boroth, contributed 15. The Cambodians were playing with a heavy heart after the death of their starting center due to a vehicular accident a week before the start of the games.
“We didn’t have someone who can contain the Filipino players inside the paint because we lost our center one week prior to the tournament,” said Cambodia coach Koledaye Abay Omi. “Without a big man, we concentrated on playing from the perimeter, but we have a tough time containing them inside.”
Black said that his team had no idea about Cambodian team until they stepped on the court.
“Basically, we didn’t know much about Cambodia until today, but they have three good players on the squad, I don’t know what their names are, but numbers 5, 6 and 9 are definitely good,” said Black during the press conference.
“We turned to our defense in the second half. I’m pretty satisfied with the way we played considering the fact that we were only playing together for only two weeks prior to the tournament. This is only our sixth game together as a team.”
Philippines (127) – Ravena 17, Garcia 16, Lanete 15, Salva 14, Marcelo 12, Ellis 12, Parks 10, Tiu 9, Hodge 9, Pascual 6, Slaughter 5, Monfort 2.
Cambodia (68) – Sophoeun 24, Pek 24, Boroth 15, Kim, V. 3, Kim 0, Sovann 0, Meas 0, Monh 0, Lov 0, Chom 0.
Quarterscores: 35-20; 61-39; 93-56; 127-68
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