For the third time since 1977 when basketball was first played in the Southeast Asian Games, the Philippines would have battled Indonesia for the title it won 17 times since then.
The Filipinos, who lost the crown only once, to Malaysia in 1989, were to face the Indonesians yesterday following the two teams’ sweeping their elimination and semifinal rounds against Singapore and Thailand, respectively.
The PH-Indonesia championship is, actually, the second straight for the two countries following their similar showdown two years ago in Singapore where the Filipinos blasted the crown-pretending Indonesians, 72-64, in their finals showdown.
The 2015 team was made up of Keifer Ravena, Troy Rosario, Scottie Thompson, Baser Amer, Glenn Khobuntin, Almond Vosotros, Marcus Douthit, Mark Belo, Jiovani Jalalon, Kevin Ferrer and Paolo Rovero.
Ravena, son of Bong Ravena, mainstay of the 1991 champion squad, is still in this year’s team along with Rosario, Amer, Vootros, Belo and Ferrer. All are now pros.
The first time the Indonesians disputed the plum was in 2001, also in Malaysia, ending the monopoly of the Malaysian themselves and the Thais in contesting the championship with the perennial winner Filipinos,
Before 2001, Malaysians had been the Filipinos’ bitter rivals for the all the marbles eight times, including their sweet 107-99 title triumph in 1989, before the Thais joined in the fray four times.
Thailand was silver medallist three times in a row from 1991 and in1999.
The Filipinos held the title six straight times from 1977 to 1987 and seven times from 1991 till 2003, regained the plum in 2007 and in 2011 until 2015.
The sport the Filipinos love most was not played in 2005, ironically here in Manila due to the FIBA International suspension meted out on the Philippines and in 2009 because of lack of basketball facilities in host Laos.
Reports being blurted out repeatedly by television broadcasters that the Philippines also lost supremacy in basketball in 1979 is far from truth. Four teams were entered in the sport that year in Jakarta and the Filipinos won all their assignments, overwhelming Malaysia, 87-82; Singapore, 96-79; and Indonesia, 125-81.