Gilas Pilipinas bucked a slow start before leaving Vietnam in the dust, 88-60, to continue its winning ways in the 31st Southeast Asian Games men’s basketball tournament, Thursday night at the Thanh Tri Gymnasium in Hanoi.
The reigning gold medalists faced a tough stand from the hosts in the game’s first 10 minutes, but gradually regained their bearings before breaking away in the second half en route to their fourth victory in as many outings.
June Mar Fajardo was on the forefront once again with 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field, alongside 11 rebounds in 22 minutes.
The six-time PBA MVP scored six in the second quarter, when the Philippines started to turn the game in its favor. A perfect trip to the foul line with about a minute left gave his side a 42-33 lead heading into the halftime break.
Fajardo then scored the last four of a quick 6-0 spurt to open the third chapter, which widened the gap to 15. And the floodgates opened from then on.
Gilas would go on to lead by as many as 31 points, 84-51, following Isaac Go’s cleanup of Matthew Wright’s miss with 2:46 left to play.
Kiefer Ravena provided 12 points, seven assists, and six rebounds. LeBron Lopez also had 12 in the triumph that saw all 12 players score at least two.
Gilas, who has now won by an average of 49 points in its last three games including Thursday’s, will have the luxury of rest before taking on Malaysia on Saturday, May 21, at 12 p.m. (Manila time) for its penultimate game.
Chris Dierker led Vietnam with 20 points on 60-percent shooting in the stinging defeat, their first after starting the cage wars with two straight wins.
His fellow national team veteran Tam Dinh was the only other double-digit scorer for the 2019 bronze medalists with 12 points.
That, as highly-touted guard Christian Juzang got limited to just eight markers on 12 shots after averaging 26.5 points in their first two games.
Philippines (88) – Fajardo 25, Ravena K. 12, Lopez 12, Pogoy 8, Rosario 7, Ravena T. 6, Navarro 6, Wright 3, Montalbo 3, Tautua’a 2, Go 2, Tungcab 2.
Vietnam (60) – Dierker 20, Tam 12, Juzang 8, Vinh 6, Cilia 5, Dinh 3, Vo 2, Du 2, Hung NV 2, Young 0, Hung DT 0.
Quarterscores: 20-17, 42-33, 62-47, 88-60.