DETHRONED and all, Gilas Pilipinas women salvaged the silver medal with a 77-63 win over Malaysia at the close of the 32nd Southeast Asian Games women’s basketball tournament on May 15 at the Morodok Techo Stadium Elephant Hall 2 in Phnom Penh.

The Nationals led from the get-go and never surrendered the driver’s seat to end their campaign at 5-1, good for a second place behind new queen Indonesia that swept the entire tournament (6-0).

Indonesia, last edition’s silver medalist, previously smothered Gilas in their duel, 89-68, to deny the latter a three-peat as the women’s play format after the single-round robin elims automatically snare the gold.

Gilas still took care of business despite the costly defeat by clinching the next biggest prize in the win over Malaysia behind the 24 points of Janine Pontejos.

The Gilas team captain fired five triples on top of three rebounds, two assists and two steals with Khate Castillo (18) backstopping him on four treys of her own.

Camille Clarin, Afril Bernardino and Chack Cabinbin added nine, seven and six points, respectively, while Jack Animam hauled down six points and 13 rebounds in her SEA Games return.

Animam in Hanoi, Vietnam last edition did not play due to a knee injury as Gilas still defended the crown for a potential hat trick this year in Phnom Penh.

To no avail, the Filipinas fell just short of the mission despite scoring big wins against Cambodia, 114-54, Singapore, 94-63, Vietnam, 116-58 and Thailand, 82-70.

Malaysia, led by Hui Pin Pang (15), settled for the bronze medal anew. — John Bryan Ulanday