By JONAS TERRADO
Gilas Pilipinas primed itself for the virtual gold medal match against Indonesia after rolling to an 87-44 win over Malaysia Saturday in the men’s basketball competitions of the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Coach Chot Reyes gave everyone substantial playing time during the blowout affair held at the Tranh Tri Gymnasium that put Gilas one victory shy of bagging a 14th consecutive gold and 19th overall in the regional meet.
With a 5-0 record, Gilas now shifts its focus on the marquee duel with Indonesia slated 3 p.m. local time (4 p.m. Manila time).
Indonesia holds a 4-0 record going into its match against host Vietnam later in the day.
The top team at the conclusion of the single-round schedule will take home the gold.
Thirdy Ravena was the lone Gilas player who scored in double digits with 17 points while adding seven rebounds, five assists and two steals in almost 23 minutes.
LeBron Lopez and RR Pogoy added nine apiece, the latter grabbing 10 rebounds.
Things were tight for the first five minutes as the lead changed hands five times, before Gilas made 10 in a row to end the first quarter up 19-10.
Equally ruthless was Gilas Women squad which beat Singapore, 88-61.
Another strong start in the game held at the Tranh Tri Gymnasium catapulted Gilas to victory — its fourth in as many games — to move one step closer from reaching the top of the podium for the second straight time.
Coach Pat Aquino’s squad faces Malaysia at 9 a.m. local time (10 a.m. Manila time) for a chance to secure the crown.
Malaysia, holding a 2-1 record, is scheduled to face host Vietnam later in the day and a loss could hand the Philippines the gold.
Four players scored in double figures led by center Clare Castro who had 15 points with four rebounds and two blocks.
Khate Castillo, who fired 25 points in the 118-87 rout of Vietnam last Thursday, and Janine Pontejos produced 14 points apiece while Angel Surada added 11.
Gilas led 6-4 in the early goings but Afril Bernardino split two free throws, Surada scored back-to-back baskets, Andrea Tongco knocked down a triple while Pontejos made two charities to make it 16-4 with over two minutes left in the second.
After allowing Singapore to end the drought, Gilas responded with 16 consecutive points that bridged the second quarter, capped off by Castillo’s back-to-back treys and Surada’s basket for a 32-6 lead over five minutes to go before halftime.
Jacqueline Chu finished with 16 points for Singapore which remained winless in four matches.