By JAY R. GOTERA
MANILA — What was expected to be a tough match turned into another blowout victory for Gilas Pilipinas as the Filipinos outclassed previously unbeaten Indonesia, 97-64, to win the 2017 SEABA Championship Thursday night.
The Philippines thus gained passage into the FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut this August and the Asian World Cup qualifying series that starts in November. Gilas Pilipinas is bracketed with Australia, Japan and Chinese Taipei in the first round of that series.
The Filipinos won their eighth SEABA crown and stretched their tournament win streak to 36 games since 1996. Indonesia was the last team to beat the Philippines in SEABA during the gold medal match in 1996.
Indonesia settled for silver this year while Thailand took home the bronze medal.
Andray Blatche, who sat out the game against Vietnam on Wednesday, spearheaded the Gilas offense, scoring a team-high 21 points on 4-of-7 shooting. The naturalized former NBA star also pulled down 10 boards.
Jayson Castro, largely silent in Gilas’ previous games, flashed his old deadly form, dishing out 14 markers, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists.
June Mar Fajardo added 13 points and four rebounds. Matthew Wright and Troy Rosario chipped in 9 markers each. Japeth Aguilar, Jio Jalolon, and Terrence Romeo had 6 apiece.
Gilas was the only team to win all its six games, winning by an average margin of 58.67. To Indonesia’s credit though, Thursday’s game was the first time Gilas scored less than a hundred points in the tournament.
The Filipinos routed all their rivals, winning 147-40 against Myanmar, 113-66 against Singapore; 106-51 against Malaysia; 108-53 against Thailand; and 107-52 against Vietnam.
Singapore 70, Vietnam 60
Singapore pulled away in the final quarter to get past Vietnam, 70-60. The Singaporeans thus finished the tourney at fifth place with a 2-4 win-loss card.
Vietnam wound up at sixth with a 5-1 record.
The game was closely fought in the first three quarters before the Singaporeans zoomed ahead, outscoring their rivals, 29-13, in the final quarter.
Malaysia 96, Myanmar 71
Malaysia overwhelmed Myanmar, 96-71, to finish the regional tournament with an even 3-3 win-loss record, good for fourth place behind Thailand, which clinched bronze on Wednesday with a 4-2 card.
Myanmar ended its campaign winless in six games.
Games Friday: San Miguel Beermen (5-1) vs. NLEX Road Warriors (0-8) and Barangay Ginebra Kings (5-1) vs. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (4-4).
By JAY R. GOTERA