Indonesia appeared to be the biggest test for Gilas Pilipinas in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, preventing the host from turning the match into a one-sided show early on, as it had done in its first three assignments.
That, until the third quarter came.
The Filipino dribblers turned it up on defense to collect 39 big points in the period alone. They then rode that wave of a momentum to the big 97-70 win, entering the gold medal match, Monday night at Mall of Asia Arena.
Chris Ross sparked the breakaway, burying three triples to turn a 43-37 affair to a rout. Gilas even led by as many as 36 points, 83-47, following a June Mar Fajardo bucket with 8:26 remaining in the game.
“It took us at halftime to figure out how hard we had to come out and play against this team, because this team came to play. They really came to play, and they were impressive,” said coach Tim Cone moments after the match.
Ross had only scored a grand total of three points in Gilas’ first three assignments. Tonight, though, he was assertive, taking shots this time and eventually finishing with 11 markers along with six dimes, five boards, a steal, and a block.
“The two threes of Chris Ross in the third, after the halftime, kind of knocked the lid off our basket,” Cone said.
“Suddenly, it looked open, and everybody could knock down shots. But until he made those two shots, it was like there was a lid on top of the basket. We just couldn’t shoot. And that got us going and that keyed our run.”
Christian Standhardinger top-scored Gilas with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field. Matthew Wright flirted with a double-double, finishing with 13 points and eight assists, while Vic Manuel chimed in 12 points.
Juan Laurent Kokodeputra was the lone bright spot for the Indonesians with a game-high 20 points.
“Congratulations to Philippines. They deserve to go to the Finals. They’re the better team, but I have to say that I’m not disappointed with the performance of my team,” said Gilas pioneer and current Indonesia mentor Rajko Toroman.
“You know, we tried to do something I think, in the three quarters that we played good. And maybe we didn’t play good six minutes in third quarter, when Gilas hit I think seven three-point shots,” added the Serbian bench tactician.
Gilas will face contenders Thailand for the crown on Tuesday, December 10, at 8:15 p.m. still at the MoA Arena.
Philippines 97 — Standhardinger 14, Wright 13, Manuel 12, Ross 11, Pringle 9, Fajardo 9, Lassiter 7, Rosario 7, Aguilar 6, Slaughter 6, Ravena 2, Tenorio 1.
Indonesia 70 — Kokodiputra 20, Grahita 14, Dhyaksa 11, Joni 11, Gemilang 6, Sitorus 4, Oei 2, Kokasih 2, Lakudu 0, Wicaksono 0.
Quarterscores: 24-20, 39-28, 78-45, 97-70.