Many felt that Indonesia posed a legitimate challenge to the Philippines’ dominance in the Southeast Asian Region. With an emphatic 97-64 victory in the gold medal match in the 2017 SEABA Championship, Gilas Pilipinas proved without a shadow of a doubt that they are still untouchable and that the rest of the field still has a lot of catching up to do.
Playing against the only other naturalized player in the SEABA competitions, Andray Blatche showed that this is still his yard with 21 points alongside 10 rebounds. He was named the Best Player of the Game as his effort was felt by the Filipino fans from the start of the contest.
“It’s been a pleasure. The fans have been amazing. They supported us all the way. Now it’s the time to take the next step in the FIBA Asia,” Blatche said in a post-game interview.
“We wanted to give the guys experience and they definitely got that here. We just need to keep working hard and keep believing on coach Chot (Reyes). He knows what he’s talking about. He led us to this championship.”
Jayson Castro was also outstanding with 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists while June Mar Fajardo added 13 points and 4 rebounds.
“We learned a lot about our team in this tournament. We still have a lot of things to improve on,” said Reyes. “Medyo may gigil ng konti yung laro kanina with all the people who came out to watch today but we’re happy we accomplished what we set out to do.”
Blatche was locked in from opening tip as he scored 8 early points capped by a two-handed dunk to force Indonesia to call an early timeout with Gilas leading 16-7.
It did not get any better for Indonesia when Gilas head coach Chot Reyes went to his bench as Calvin Abueva, Matthew Wright, and Japeth Aguilar conspired to give the Philippines a 34-14 lead after the first 10 minutes.
The Indonesians looked shell-shocked from the start as they hurriedly put up long shots, unwilling to test the Philippines’ interior defense.
The offense slowed down considerably for Gilas in the second quarter as they only managed to score 2 points in the first 5 minutes allowing Indonesia to creep back in and cut their deficit to 15, 36-21.
Indonesia sat on their zone defense for much of the second quarter and it worked as Terrence Romeo and RR Pogoy struggled to hit shots from the outside. Gilas finally got back into their groove when Jayson Castro re-entered the ballgame. The Blur, Japeth Aguilar, and Troy Rosario were steady in the closing minutes of the second period as Gilas led lead 51-30 at the half.
Blatche and Castro, veterans of international play, combined for 24 points and 13 rebounds in the first half. Jamarr Johnson struggled with only 2 points after the first 20 minutes.
The dam broke for Gilas in the third quarter as Blatche, Matthew Wright, and Terrence Romeo waxed hot from three-point distance. Gilas was also locked in on defense as they displayed in the last possession of the quarter where Aguilar and Abueva both went for a chase-down block.
The Beast tumbled head-first into the baseline but his effort was met by a huge ovation from the hometown fans.
Wright and Rosario added 9 points apiece while Romeo and Jalalon added 6 each. Abueva only finished with 5 points in the game but his all-around effort powered Gilas on both ends of the floor as he grabbed 8 rebounds and played solid defense against the Indonesian wings.
“Now we’ll have to sit down with the SBP, PLDT, Smart, and the PBA to figure out what the plans are for the upcoming months,” Reyes, who won his first championship in the PBA on the same day back in 1993, said.
“We’ve taken the first step but it’s going to be a very long journey,” Reyes said after the game as Gilas Pilipinas will now prepare for the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup to be played in Lebanon this August.”
Gilas Pilipinas 97 – Blatche 21, Castro 14, Fajardo 13, Rosario 9, Wright 9, Jalalon 6, Romeo 6, Aguilar 6, Abueva 5, Pogoy 5, Maliksi 3, Almazan 0
Indonesia 64 – Wisnu 11, Wuysang 10, Pratama 8, Setipu 8, Kurniawan 7, Johnson 4, Sitorus 4, Dhyaksa 2, Nugroho 2, Lakudu 0
Quarterscores: 34-14, 51-30, 78-47, 97-64
– Indonesia’s naturalized player Jamarr Johnson struggled all game long and finished with just 4 points on 2/6 shooting.
– This was the only game where Gilas failed to score at least 100 points. The team averaged 113 points per game.
– Back in May 18, 1993, a 29-year old Chot Reyes led the Coney Island Ice Cream Stars to the All-Filipino crown against the San Miguel Beermen led by the multi-titled Norman Black. It was his first PBA championship. One of his assistant coaches back then was PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa.