• Philippines, Indonesia win, dispute FIBA Asia Cup slot

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    Gilas Pilipinas trounced Vietnam sans naturalized player Andray Blatche, 107-52, to join Indonesia at the top in the penultimate day of the Southeast Asia Basketball Association (SEABA) Championship on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

    Head coach Chot Reyes gave Blatche an extra day to rest his strained hamstring in time for a big game against the Indonesians today though the host nation hardly encountered any trouble in dispatching Vietnam to notch its fifth straight win.

    “I expect him (Blatche) to be 100 percent tomorrow,” said Reyes, who drew 19 points from Matthew Wright highlighted by five triples.

    Raymond Almazan of the Philippines scores against Van Hung Nguyen of Vietnam during the Southeast Asia Basketball Association Championship on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. PHOTO BY RUSSELL PALMA

    “We knew Indonesia would be the toughest opponent in this tournament. They are raring to go tomorrow so we made sure to rest Andray and be ready for tomorrow,” he added.

    Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan each had 16 markers while Troy Rosario added 12 points and eight rebounds for Gilas 5. The Philippines will battle Indonesia for the gold medal and the lone spot for the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asia Cup this August.

    Indonesia played full strength in its 123-50 rout of Myanmar earlier with naturalized player Jamarr Johnson and Indonesian-American Arki Wisnu debuting in the tournament and contributing to their fifth straight victory.

    Johnson and Wisnu were finally given the clearance by the FIBA and their addition to the team gives Indonesia a fighting chance against the Philippines in the gold medal match today.

    “We have a better chance of matching the Philippines tomorrow with the addition of Jamarr (Johnson) and Arki (Wisnu),” said head coach Jati Widayat Wahyu. “I’m hoping they will give us more energy. The Philippines is big in basketball. They are hard to beat but we’ll try our best tomorrow.”

    Johnson, who finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, shared the same sentiments.

    “We’re going to compete for 40 minutes against the Philippines. I’m willing to sacrifice my body and play my hearts out regardless of what reputation they (the Philippines) have. Will do our best,” said Johnson.

    “It’s just basketball and the Philippines has a good reputation, but it is a 40-minute of play. Let’s just see what will happen there,” said Wisnu, who finished with 16 markers.

    Myanmar remained winless in the tournament after five matches.

    Thailand secured the bronze medal after beating Singapore, 67-57, behind the 17-point performance of Chitchai Ananti. The Thais finished third in the competition with a 4-2 win-loss mark while the Singaporeans slid to 1-4.

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