AFTER SWEEPING all three of its preliminary matches in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, the Philippine men’s national basketball team takes its campaign to a higher level as it battles Indonesia in the semifinals today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Went 3-0 in group play, Gilas Pilipinas took the top spot in Group A to set up a Final Four encounter with Group B second-seed Indonesia, coached by former Philippines coach Rajko Toroman.
The Philippines, which has had a stranglehold on the SEA Games event, winning gold 17 times out of 19 in the biennial regional sporting meet, as expected has been dominant in the ongoing edition of the Games.
The Tim Cone-coached All-Philippine Basketball Association squad defeated Singapore, Vietnam and Myanmar in group play with an average winning margin of 54 points.
Gilas played last Myanmar on Dec. 7, winning, 136-67.
Matthew Wright of the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters led the Gilas juggernaut over the Burmese squad, finishing with a game-high 29 points, 24 coming from beyond the arc.
Vic Manuel of the Alaska Aces had 24 points and 11 rebounds while Troy Rosario of TNT KaTropa added 16 points and nine boards.
Marcio Lassiter of the San Miguel Beermen, meanwhile, had 15 points, all coming from three-point land to go along with five assists.
“We wanted to find balance in the game and I think we found it as the game progressed,” said Mr. Cone following their victory over Myanmar, in a game that saw five-time PBA most valuable player June Mar Fajardo and Stanley Pringle not play.
Looking to deal the Philippines its first defeat in the tournament is Indonesia, which finished second in Group B with a 2-1 record.
It is coming off a 100-71 victory over Cambodia in its last game on Dec. 7.
Andakara Prastawa led the Indonesians in the win with 14 points.
The winner between the Philippines and Indonesia takes on the victor in the other semifinal pairing of Thailand and Vietnam in the finals set for Tuesday, Dec. 10. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo