By JONAS TERRADO
Game Tuesday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – Philippines vs Thailand
Gilas Pilipinas is halfway from completing its ultimate goal of ruling the SEABA Championship, this time making the struggling young squad from Malaysia its latest victim with a 106-51 victory last night in front of an appreciative Mother’s Day crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Andray Blatche and Troy Rosario had 13 points each to share top scoring honors but Jayson Castro and Japeth Aguilar starred in another first half blitz that kept the Filipino cagers unbeaten after three games going into their only rest day of the competition.
Castro recovered from a scoreless showing in Saturday’s win over Singapore by making all of his 10 points in the first half, showing glimpses of his past international exploits in past FIBA Asia battles, before spending the latter half on the bench.
Aguilar gave fans a treat with his signature dunks, converting twice that included an alley-oop slam that put Gilas up 35-12, 1:25 remaining in the first quarter.
It appeared that a turnover was in the offing when Blatche threw a bad pass to Jio Jalalon near the midcourt sidelines, but the Star Hotshots was able to save the ball for Terrence Romeo, who in turn lobbed a pass for Aguilar for the two-handed throw down.
Though winning an average margin of 69.7 points after three games, Gilas coach Chot Reyes remained modest at best.
“I like our dedication and discipline on defense, a lot better than the second half (against Singapore). I thought on offense we still have a lot of opportunities to make an extra pass to make an easy play and there were some instances that we were not doing that,” said Reyes.
“But again, this team is a work in progress, that’s gonna come in time. We still have to know to whip the ball a lot better, a lot faster,” he added as they look forward to tomorrow night’s battle with Thailand.
Indonesia remained unbeaten after Mario Wuysang scored a stepback jumper to beat Thailand, 60-59, in the first game. Wuysang, the 38-year-old star guard for the CLS Knights Surabaya of the Indonesian Basketball League, hit the game-winner with 11.1 seconds left to put the Indonesians in a share of the lead with Gilas.
Vietnam routed Myanmar, 77-44, with Nguyen Van Hung, a two-sport star having won multiple Southeast Asian Games gold medals in taekwondo, finishing with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Myanmar fell to 0-2 but not without entertaining the crowd behind 21 points by Wana Aung.
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