PH seeks rare SEA Games cage title double
With its long-time title tormentor gone, the Gilas Pilipinas women’s team again shoots for an eagerly awaited basketball gold double in the Southeast Asian Games on Tuesday.
A favorite whipping squad by Malaysia in the finals since women’s basketball was introduced when the Philippines joined the biennial sportsfest in 1977, the national cagebelles made sure that won’t happen in the 30th edition of the sportsfest.
With a closing 13-1 run, the Filipinos eliminated the defending champion Malaysians with an 81-75 decision Sunday to seal a title clash with the Thailand dribblers.
The defending champion Malaysians, who won 14 of 18 titles disputed so far, were earlier outplayed by the two-time winner Thais, 70-47.
With one of their poorest campaigns in the event, they now go for the bronze, also Tuesday, against Indonesia, which completed the four-team women’s cast and earlier dropped its matches against the Filipinos (63-56) and the Thais (67-58).
Meanwhile, if play went according to form in the semifinals yesterday, it will be another Philippines-Thailand duel for the men’s crown.
Both unbeaten in their respective groups during the eliminations, the Filipinos and the Thais were seeking the two title slots against Indonesia and Vietnam, respectively.
Unlike their female counterparts, the Gilas boys are heavily favored to clinch a 15th straight title and 18th overall since 1977.
Philippine coach Tim Cone expected rough sailing against the Indons, however, with former Gilas tactician Rajko Toroman now on the opposite bench.
“They’re very dangerous,” said Cone, whose all-pro team from the Philippine Basketball Association had overpowered Singapore, Vietnam and Myanmar in the eliminations with a combined winning total of 162 points.
If the national cagebelles pull through and Cone’s squad wins as expected, the host country would achieve not only a record victory double but the first four-gold romp in the sports with the Filipinos earlier sweeping both divisions of the inaugural staging of 3×3 basketball. INQ