What else is new? Gilas crushes Indonesia, earns ticket to Asia World Cup qualifier
May 18, 2017
Gilas Pilipinas lived up to its reputation as the region’s super power, crushing Indonesia, 97-64, Thursday night to complete a dominant showing in the 2017 SEABA Championship and secure a traditional spot in the Asian meets. Before a raucous crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the Nationals rolled past the last hurdle separating them from passage into the FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut in August and into the Asian World Cup qualifying series that starts in November. They stood tall at the end of the weeklong one-round-robin SEABA competition where they swept away the opposition by a whopping average of 58.6 points. Andray Blatche and the super assembly of 11 PBA players, earlier, routed Myanmar, 147-40; Singapore, 113-66; Malaysia, 106-51; Thailand, 108-53; and Vietnam, 107-52. They easily proved that the Philippines is a class of its own in Southeast Asian basketball. As a result, Team Phl formalized its entry into the Asian “WC” qualifier where it is headed into a grouping with Australia, Japan and Chinese Taipei in the first round of the series of eliminators that will run all the way to 2019. Gilas’ goal is to make the top seven in the Asian competition to qualify to the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. As promised, the Nationals didn’t take the Indons for granted in the closing game of the SEABA joust. Coach Chot Reyes returned his regular starting unit of Blatche, June Mar Fajardo, Jayson Castro, Allein Malicsi and RR Pogoy who worked on an early breakaway, getting Team Phl to a 20-point lead at 34-14 in the opening quarter. For a while, the Indons stymied the Filipinos’ run with a shift to zone defense in the second quarter. Gilas struggled with its shooting from beyond the arc, including Terrence Romeo with a 0-of-5 clip. But Gilas got back into the groove before the halftime break and the Nationals led by 21 at 51-30 going into last two quarters of play. And they stayed in cruise control through the last 20 minutes of play, easily handling all the efforts churned out by the guest team. Blatche came out of a game-day rest and paced the Nationals with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Castro, who seemed to pace himself in their first five games, stepped up in their game that mattered the most, collecting 14 markers, seven rebounds and five assists. Fajardo came up with 13 points and four rebounds.