WITHOUT a doubt, Gilas Pilipinas proved to be too much against anyone in the Southeast Asian Games men’s basketball tournament and on Tuesday night, the Filipinos showed why they are kings of the region.
The team composed of some of the biggest names in the PBA and coached by the winningest mentor in league history, the hastily-prepared yet too talented Gilas Pilipinas squad ran roughshod over finals rival Thailand, 115-81, to clinch the gold medal with ease.
With seven players finishing in double figures and shooting 51-percent together as a team, the Filipinos outclassed their rivals at all fronts.
June Mar Fajardo and Christian Standhardinger each had a double-double performance as they simply imposed their will inside the shaded lane for Gilas Pilipinas, which scored 58 points inside the paint, 30 more than its rival.
Fajardo finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds while Standhardinger contributed 16 points and 11 assists. Five other players ended up in double figures — LA Tenorio (16), Vic Manuel (14), Matthew Wright (14), Stanley Pringle (13), and Kiefer Ravena (10).
For Tim Cone, the key to Gilas’ success in the tournament is the unselfishness of everyone, which justified his rationale of putting up a veteran-laden team.
“What I like most about this group is no one wants to be the star,” Gilas Pilipinas coach Tim Cone told sportswriters right after the Philippine men’s basketball team ruled the SEA Games competition anew, a distinction it holds since 1991.
“No one tried to outshine their teammates. Everybody really worked together and they are so unselfish. I think it starts really from June Mar, who is the most humble, unselfish player I’ve ever been around ever in my career. Chris Ross is a great leader. He has had some great moments in this tournament and you could tell that he’s really psyched to playing for the country because it’s the first time. Bottom line, these guys deserve all the credit,” added Cone.
In beating Thailand for the gold medal, the men’s team capped a perfect campaign for Philippine basketball in general as the Filipinos swept all the four events lined up in the biggest staging of the biennial meet ever.
Earlier, Gilas Pilipinas women’s team achieved a historic feat by winning its first-ever gold medal in the SEA Games. Two other events were ruled by our teams in the 3 x 3 event as the Pinoy ballers completed a four-gold haul.
“Mission accomplished! Four gold medals for the Philippines in basketball capped by another dominant run by our Gilas Pilipinas men’s team. With the country hosting the SEA Games, it gave us a unique opportunity to be able to showcase the best team we could form, but the SBP could not have done with without the support of PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial and the Board of Governors as they made all of their players available for coach Tim Cone,” wrote Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio.
“The SBP also extends its thanks to Smart and San Miguel Corporation, which collaborated seamlessly to build this team. Congratulations to all the members of the team for this flawless performance and to all Filipino basketball fans, we thank you for the support, and we hope we made you proud. Para sa Bayan!”