If the Chinese are to the FIBA-Asia, the Filipinos are to the Southeast Asian Games.
The Philippines ran roughshod Indonesia in a lopsided 94-55 victory and still emerge the Southeast Asian basketball championship for the 18th time on Saturday at the Malaysian Basketball Association hoop house in Kuala Lumpur.
So dominating were the Filipinos that except in one instance when the now four-time runner up showed the way, 13-12, 3:30 left of the first quarter, it was the title-defenders’ show all the way as they, once again, proved no one yet among their region’s neighbors can beat them in the game their countrymen love most.
The defending champs obliged to a 19-15 edge after 10 minutes of play before Mke Tolomia took over from there sniping, three triple in dizzying 25-point annihilation in the next session as coach Jong Uichico’s boys didn’t look back and decided the issue that early, 45-27.
Despite that big margin, the Filipinos, who have been the undisputed kingpin of the game since it was introduced in the meet’s calendar in 1977, the year the Philippines and Indonesia were admitted to the SEA Games fold, he Filipinos went unrelenting, this time with team captain Keifer Ravena, Christian Stanhardinger, Troy Roario Raymar Jose and Kobe Paras and joining in the scoring fray while limiting the enemies to measly nine points for an even bigger 67-36 bubble.
Paras, one of the illustrious Benjie Paras’ basketball-playing sons trying to follow in their father’s footstep, again, showed why he’s the predominantly pro-Filipino crowd’s favorite, showing them and everybody else, including the opponents, his dunking prowess three times.
The Philippines’ 2017 SEA Games title triumph was its 18th in the 19 time basketball was played in the biennial meet. The Filipino dribblers cold have win more had they hadn’t dethroned by Malaysia in 1989, also in Kuala Lumpur.
Basketball wasn’t disputed in 2005, ironically here in Manila, due to a suspension meted out the Philippine by FIBA International and in 2009 in thenGames held in Laos because of lack of facilities in the host country.
The Indonesians, thus, had lost all four of their chances to emerge the Games’ basketball champions after bowing, too, to the Filipinos in the 2001 and 2007 finals.
Indonesia is actually the only third country outside of Malaysia and Thailand to earn a place in the gold medal play against the Philippines. The Malaysians, in fact, had the chance six straight times from 1877 to 1989, succeeding only once the last time.
The Malaysians were also the losing title pretenders in 1977 following the Thais’ losing bids in 1991, 1993 and 1995. The Thais were again thwarted in their title campaign 1999 and, again in 2003, 2011 and 2013.
Tolomia finished with a game-high 20 points off the bench, 15 coming from beyond the arc. Paras added 14 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting. Jose and Standhardinger finished, too, in double figures for the Philippines with 12 and 11 points respectively.
All that Uichico fielded in, except sentinel Almond Vosotros, scored with Ravena, most likely, ended up his SEA Game tour of duty with seven points and his record fourth gold medal.
Carl Bryan Cruz contributed six, Kevin Ferrer and Von Pessumal five each, Baser Amer four, and Ray Parks two, Vosotros, though, along with Parks, Stanhardinger, Paras, Amer and Ferrer, all stood out in defensive end.
Both Parks and, son of seven-time best import in the PBA, earned their third gold medals, tying Rommel Adducul for second most.
Only Diftha Pratama and Sandy Kurniawan came out the brightest in he Indonesian side with 10 points apiece.