The Philippine national men’s basketball team dodged the upset axe after overcoming Thailand’s tough stand, 81-74, in its first assignment in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games on Sundya night at MABA Stadium in Malaysia.
Gilas Pilipinas, which is targeting its 17th gold medal in the event, engaged in a tightly contested battle against the Thais who even led late in the game. But the Filipinos kept their composure in the end to open their campaign with a victory.
Troy Rosario led the way with 16 points and 10 rebounds as Christian Standhardinger also registered a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Ray Parks chipped in 14 points, three assists and four steals including a crucial interception that forced Thailand’s top player Tyler Lamb to commit his last foul.
Gilas Pilipinas looked on its way to building an insurmountable lead after grabbing a 13-point ege, 29-16, in the second period.
The Thais, led by Lamb and Chitchai Ananti, however responded with a 17-3 run to stun Gilas and take a 33-32 advantage.
Thailand stood its ground since then, with the Filipinos having a hard time breaking their opponents’ zone defense.
The Thais showed their grit in the fourth quarter where they controlled the tempo and kept the Filipinos from taking over. Thailand was even up 68-66 with 5:29 left with momentum on its side.
But Gilas Pilipinas caught a huge break after Parks drew Lamb’s fifth and final foul following a steal with 4:52 left. The Thai-American finished the game as Thailand’s top scorer with 17 points.
The Filipinos, trailing 71-69 with 4:30 left, went on to unleash an 8-0 run highlighted by huge baskets from Kiefer Ravena and Baser Amer.
Thailand didn’t give up and came close to within three, 77-74, with 1:52 left. Amer and Standhardinger then connected on a nice two-man game to push Gilas Pilipinas’ lead to five.
Thailand couldn’t convert from beyond the arc after that as free throw splits from Parks and Standhardinger iced the win for the Philippines.
Despite the win, Gilas Pilipinas was outplayed by Thailand in a number of departments. The Filipinos only shot six-for-30 from downtown compared to the Thais’ 10-for-35.
The Thais also won the rebounding department, 50-42. The Filipinos also struggled from the free throw line, making 15 out of 26 shots compared to Thailand’s 14-for-18.
Gilas Pilipinas takes a break on Monday before returning to action against Myanmar on Tuesday.