Thailand had to overcome a late-game hijack attempt by Malaysia to come out victorioius, 74-67, to open their 2017 SEABA Championship campaign on a winning note, Wednesday night at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Chitchai Ananti, despite going out of the game with 3:23 left due to a shin injury, still managed to lead Thailand with a game-high 24 points on 16 shots alongside eight boards.
The Thais led by as much as 12, 68-56, with 2:56 left in the final frame, only to squander it when Malaysia went on a 9-0 run punctuated by a Choong Yuen Yew trey, to help the Malays close by just three, 68-65, with 58.4 seconds left.
Malaysia could have gone closer to pull the rug from under the Thais, but shots from the charity stripe by Choong, Sukhdave Ghogar, and Nattakam Muangboon in the closing seconds were enough to seal the deal for Thailand.
Muangboon and Phatiphan Klahan made their presence felt for Thailand in the victory, backing up Ananti with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Malaysia was anchored by Choo Wei Hong with 12 points, while Liw Chee Huei provided 10 markers along with five rebounds.
The Malays gave up a whopping 34 fouls all throughout the game, resulting in 29-of-43 free throw shots for the Thais. Thailand dominated the boards, however, 59-40.
Both teams will resume action tomorrow, Saturday, May 13. Thailand will face debuting Vietnam first at 3:00 PM, while Malaysia will battle Indonesia at 5:00 PM.
Thailand (74) – Ananti 24, Muangboon 12, P. Klahan 11, Ghogar 9, Chanthachon 8, Samerjai 6, Sunthonsiri 2, Dasom 2, Jaisanuk 0, C. Klahan 0.
Malaysia (67) – Choo 12, Liaw 10, Heng 8, Choong 7, Mak 7, Teo 6, Ong 6, Chan 4, Ting 4, Ang 3, Chin 0, Liew 0.
Quarterscores: 15-25, 36-41, 55-49, 74-67.