By JAY R. GOTERA
MANILA — Even with naturalized player Andray Blatche sitting out the game, Gilas Pilipinas still had more than enough firepower to pummel Vietnam into submission, 107-52, in the penultimate play date of the 2017 SEABA Championship on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Philippines is now tied with Indonesia in the standings with a 5-0 win-loss card. The two squads go into a virtual championship match in the last game of the tournament on Thursday night. The winner of that match will qualify for the Asian World Cup series starting in November.
The Philippines-Indonesia game promises to be an exciting one following the clearance granted by FIBA for Indonesian naturalized player Jamarr Johnson and Indon-American Arki Wisnu to play in the tourney. The two quality players showed their potentials earlier Wednesday in the game against Myanmar.
With this in mind, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes decided to rest Blatche in Wednesday’s game against Vietnam to be ready for the expected tougher competition against Indonesia Thursday.
Matthew Wright top-scored for Gilas against Vietnam with 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting, all from long-range. Raymond Almazan and Calvin Abueva added 16 points apiece and 6 rebounds each. Troy Rosario added 12 markers while Jio Jalalon had 10.
Vietnam managed to grab the lead at 5-4 at the start of the game before Wright banged in a triple to spark a 17-2 run en route to another blowout victory.
Thailand 67, Singapore 57
Thailand capped its 2017 SEABA Championship campaign on a positive note by beating Singapore, 67-57, to assure itself of a third place bronze medal finish.
The Thais raced to an early double-digit lead before weathering a late rally by the Singaporeans to finish with four wins and two losses.
After being held scoreless in the game against Gilas Pilipinas, Chitchai Ananti bounced back to lead his team with 17 points. Kannut Samerjai added 15 points, while Patipan Klahan chipped in 10 points and 10 boards for the Thais.
Singapore absorbed a fourth loss in five games.
Indonesia 123, Myanmar 50
Indonesia showed that, just like the Philippines, it can pulverize an opponent when it blasted Myanmar, 123-50, on the eve of the much anticipated showdown against Gilas Pilipinas for the crown.
In their first game of the tournament after getting cleared to play by FIBA on Tuesday, Johnson and Wisnu showed their potentials as they led the Indonesians to their fifth straight win.
Their 73-point winning margin is the second-largest winning margin in the tournament after the Philippines’ 107-point dismantling of the same Myanmar team on opening day. Myanmar suffered its fifth straight loss.
Abraham Grahita and Hardianus Lakudu led Indonesia with 19 and 18 points, respectively. Johnson added 17 points, seven boards, three assists, two steals, and one block in 21 minutes, while Wisnu added seven points in just eight minutes
Games Thursday: Malaysia (2-3) vs. Myanmar (0-5); Vietnam (1-4) vs. Singapore (1-4); and Philippines (5-0) vs. Indonesia (5-0).