Gilas Pilipinas shrugged off a slow start and routed Thailand, 108-53, to gain a share of the lead with Indonesia in the Southeast Asia Basketball Association (SEABA) Championship on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
After leading by only four after the first period, 18-14, the Philippine quintet banked on the 15-point explosion of Japeth Aguilar in the second quarter where they outscored the Thais, 33-12, to carry a 51-26 advantage going to the break.
There was no let up for Gilas 5 in the second half as it stretched its lead to 80-43 after the third canto en route to its fourth straight lopsided win and hand Thailand its second loss in five outings.
“The second unit of Japeth and Terrence (Romeo) gave us a lift,” said head coach Chot Reyes, who also drew 15 markers and six assists from Calvin Abueva.
“We shut down Thailand’s best scorer (Chitchai Ananti). They (Thailand) are well-coached, very athletic and long, so we made the adjustment defensively in the game. We knew that we would get tested [in this game],” he added.
Aguilar went 10-of-10 from the field including a pair of thunderous dunks that thrilled the hometown crowd.
Teerawat Chanthachon led Thailand with 16 points.
In other results, Wei Hong Choo hit the go-ahead jumper with four seconds left to help Malaysia escaped with an 86-85 overtime win over the upset-conscious Vietnam.
Chun Hong Ting scored 28 points while Choo added 20 markers for Malaysia, which improved to 2-3. Vietnam dropped to 1-3.
Singapore entered the win column after crushing Myanmar, 85-32, behind the solid performance from teenager Lavin Raj.
The 16-year old Raj came off the bench and collected 19 points, six rebounds and three blocks to lead Singapore to its first win after four games.
Three more Singaporeans hit double figures to keep Myanmar winless in the tournament after four matches.
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s campaign got a shot in the arm after the SEABA organizers announced that naturalized player Jamarr Johnson and Indonesian-American Arki Wisnu were given the go signal to compete in the seven-nation tournament.
Tournament commissioner Wong Chung Min said in a statement that “Indonesia has already received the proper documents that will let the two players play in the tournament.”
Indonesia is unbeaten after four games and will most likely face Gilas Pilipinas on Thursday in what could be a do-or-die match for the lone spot in the International Basketball Federation Asia Cup.
In SEABA U-16, Malaysia stayed unbeaten after three games with a 77-56 demolition of Singapore to join Batang Gilas at the top of the team standings. Thailand notched its first win after beating Indonesia, 79-69.