Gilas cadets came, saw, and conquered Thailand.
The Philippine men’s basketball national team remained the South East Asia’s most formidable force as they captured the 5th South East Asian Basketball Association Stankovic Cup at the expense of host-nation Thailand, 97-80, Saturday night in Bangkok.
Following a nail-biting win last Thursday night against the host team, 66-65, to top the eliminations and earned a Finals berth, the Gilas Cadets didn’t let this game be as close as the first encounter as they stepped on the gas late in the fourth canto en route to the gold medal finish.
With the game still hanging on the balance, 69-66, in favor of the Philippines, FEU’s Mac Belo and Mike Tolomia along with Arellano’s Jio Jalalon launched an 18-6 scoring assault to post an 82-77 lead that pretty much sealed the deal.
Thailand, though, stayed on Gilas’ coattails all game long, being locked-up at 22-all after the 1st quarter and even trailed only by 5, 67-62, heading into the final canto but their gas tank seemingly emptied as they crumbled and only settled for the silver medal.
While Belo, Tolomia and Jalalon put finishing touches, Blackwater Elite’s Almond Vosotros and Gilas cadets team captain Troy Rosario of the Tropang TNT did the heavy lifting in the initial parts of the game to hold on to the lead.
Rosario registered 17 points and collared 7 rebounds while Jalalon chipped in 16 and 7 as well. Belo, Tolomia and Vosotros contributed 14, 12 and 11, respectively, for the Nash Racela-coched Gilas Cadets.
Chitchai Ananti top-scored for Thailand with 19 markers on top of 4 rebounds and 2 steals.
Meanwhile, Singapore defeated Malaysia in the battle for third to finish with a bronze medal. — By John Bryan Ulanday