Gilas 5 sweeps Seaba
Done with the formality of conquering an inferior field, it’s now time for bigger things for Gilas Pilipinas 5.0.
The team made up of PBA multimillionaires and a former NBA star ruled the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) Championship unscathed—as expected—to advance to the Fiba Asia World Cup Qualifying where the competition will be multiple notches higher.
Andray Blatche, Gilas’ naturalized center, held the Philippine flag up high after the final buzzer sounded in a 97-64 ripping of Indonesia before an appreciative hometown crowd at Smart Araneta Coliseum, scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in his best game of the tournament.
There was so much talk surrounding the composition of this team, as some experts branded it overkill playing in just an entry-level event.
“We learned a lot about our team (playing in this tournament),” coach Chot Reyes said after the Filipinos’ sixth straight lopsided win. “They (Gilas players) got the feeling of playing together, though we still have a lot of things to improve on.”
Reyes hit it right in the head, as the Filipinos would have to be at their absolute best later this year when they start first-round action in the Qualifying tournament. They are bracketed in Group B with Japan, Chinese Taipei and world power Australia.
The Philippine national anthem was played twice after the Batang Gilas squad also advanced to the Fiba Asia Under-16 Championship with a four-game sweep. The young Filipinos thumped Malaysia, 83-62, in their own gold-medal match.
Jason Castro, Asia’s best point guard, scored 14 points, had seven rebounds and five assists, while reigning three-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo scored 13.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.