Gilas Pilipinas reclaimed the throne in the Southeast Asian Games men’s basketball tournament with a decisive 80-69 victory over Cambodia in the final on Tuesday at the Elephant Hall 2 of Morodok Techo National Stadium in Phnom Penh.
Justin Brownlee and CJ Perez stepped up with crucial three-pointers, extinguishing Cambodia’s early fourth-quarter rally. The Filipino team avenged its loss to Indonesia last year in Vietnam and secured the gold medal.
With this redemption tour complete, the Philippines captured its 19th men’s basketball title and secured its 56th gold medal in the ongoing regional meet.
“A lot of people doubted this team the first time we lost. But the first words I told them when we lost was this was the one we could afford. And I thought that was the loss that we needed,” said Gilas coach Chot Reyes.
“Win or lose, this was going to be my last SEA Games, I promised I’ll never coach in the SEA Games anymore. At least, I will go out with a gold medal,” Reyes added.
Brownlee led Gilas with 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists, a steal, and a block, earning his first championship with the national team. Meanwhile, Chris Newsome contributed 16 points.
Marcio Lassiter added 10 points, including two three-pointers, along with five rebounds and two steals.
Significant contributions also came from Perez, Christian Standhardinger, and Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, each contributing nine points. The formidable frontcourt tandem combined for 15 of the team’s 40 rebounds.
The quintet made things difficult for the hosts, who were led by center Brandon Peterson’s 18 points and 14 rebounds. Former club teammate Darrin Dorsey supported him with 17 points. Meanwhile, Sayeed Pridgett and Dwayne Morgan added 13 points each in the loss.
Pridgett and Morgan initiated an 8-0 run at the start of the final period, reducing the deficit to five points, 59-64. However, Perez halted their momentum with a three-pointer from the top with 6:43 remaining.
Brownlee followed up with a three-pointer of his own, extending Gilas’ lead to 11 points, 70-59, with 6:07 left on the clock. With the assistance of Ganuelas-Rosser and Newsome, they maintained a comfortable lead throughout the rest of the game.
Cambodia settled for silver with this loss, marking their first-ever medal in 5-on-5 basketball at the SEA Games, an accomplishment of historic significance. Coach Harry Savaya’s team concluded the tournament with a 4-1 record, with their only loss occurring in the final against the same team they had defeated 79-68 in the group stage last Thursday.
“We kept this team of what, five, six American imports to below 70 points, that is great defense,” said Reyes, who got his vindication with the win, after earning the ire of Filipino fans back home when the team lost the basketball gold to Indonesia in last year’s games.
Meanwhile, Thailand defeated the reigning champions Indonesia 83-69 earlier in the day. It secured the bronze medal for the third time in the last four SEA Games.
Philippines (80) – Brownlee 23, Newsome 16, Lassiter 10, Standhardinger 9, Perez 9, Ganuelas-Rosser 9, Lastimosa 4, Ross 0, Tolentino 0, Phillips 0, Amos 0.
Cambodia (69) – Peterson 18, Dorsey 17, Pridgett 13, Morgan 13, Henderson 6, Lopes 2, Hoeup 0.
Quarterscores: 21-22, 44-33, 64-51, 80-69.