In the past 16 times the Philippines has taken part in the Southeast Asian Games’ women’s basketball tilt, it only garnered six silver medals, five bronzes, several fourth-place finishes.
But on Tuesday evening, in front of their compatriots, the Filipina dribblers finally struck gold.
Gilas Women made history, overwhelming perennial contenders Thailand, 91-71, to win the crown in the 30th SEA Games at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“It has been a long time. We’ve been doing it since 2015. The gold is with us now,” said head coach Pat Aquino, who took over the national team in the said year.
Five players finished in double figures in the win, with Jack Animam leading the pack with 21 points and five rebounds.
Janine Pontejos made 16 points — spiked by three three-pointers — along with five rebounds and four steals. Meanwhile, center Kelly Hayes and Khate Castillo each chimed in 11 markers each.
Afril Bernardino finished with 10 points, on top of 14 rebounds, five assists, and two blocks.
Gilas Women had seized control of the match early, opening things up with an 18-7 lead. Its counterparts then fought back and ended the first half down by just two, 43-45.
But things changed after the halftime break. The home team opened the third quarter with seven straight points, finding their groove and leaving their opponents shackled.
From a slim 52-48 lead, Gilas Women unloaded 12 straight points for a 64-48 advantage with 2:12 left in the third. The game was never in doubt after that.
“We had a breakout game in the third, Jack was tremendous, Afril was there. Everybody supported, Khate Castillo, Janine Pontejos. Everybody. I’m just so happy for the girls,” said Aquino.
On the other hand, Tiffany Bias led the Thais with 15 points. Supavadee Kunchuan and Rattiyakom Udomsuk each added 12 markers.
Philippines 91 — Animam 21, Pontejos 16, Hayes 11, Castillo 11, Bernardino 10, Cabinbin 7, Jose 6, Nabalan 5, Prado 2, Castro 2, Tongco 0, Chan 0.
Thailand 71 –– Bias 15, Kunchuan 12, Udomsuk 12, Yothanan 10, Kaichaiyapoom 5, Maihom 4, Supyen 3, Buapa 3, Klunbut 2, Phromrat 2, Sangmanee 0.
Quarterscores: 27-20, 45-43, 68-52, 91-71.