A reign deemed to be impenetrable has just collapsed.
The Philippines’ dominion over Southeast Asian men’s basketball came to a shocking end as Indonesia completed the coup by way of an 85-81 stunner in the 31st SEA Games, Sunday at the Thanh Tri Gymnasium in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Thirty-one strong years of kingship that saw 13 consecutive golden finishes came to a screeching halt as Gilas yielded to its regional rivals, who have just become the third team to win a SEAG gold, the other being Malaysia.
The Malaysians were the last nation to rule the biennial meet before the Filipinos’ streak, doing so back in 1989 in Kuala Lumpur. An all-amateur PH team handled by Derrick Pumaren settled for silver in that meet.
This all-pro team put together by coach Chot Reyes will be flying back home with a silver as well following a performance far from what they did in the last four games, where they ran roughshod over the opposition.
Gilas uncharacteristically played catch-up all game long, but imposed a serious threat when Matthew Wright’s shot from the outside cut the deficit to just a field goal, 81-79, with only 39 seconds remaining.
He then tried to make their foes pay for a turnover on the other end by trying to tie the game, but his runner missed. Worse, Indonesia got the ball, leaving Kiefer Ravena with no choice but to foul Abraham Grahita.
Grahita sank his freebies to make it 83-79 with 6.1 ticks left
The Philippines went on a fouling spree in a bid to freeze the clock and hope that the breaks would go in their favor. But it did not. and Marques Bolden was there to apply the finishing touches from the stripe in the final seconds.
And as the final buzzer sounded, the Indonesians erupted in joy for finally achieving their biggest success to date, while the other end of the court was filled with grief and disappointment in failing to keep the crown.
Wright led the Filipinos with 23 points. June Mar Fajardo finished with 20 points, including 15 in the third quarter as he tried to carry the fight for his side. Thirdy Ravena made 17 points as Troy Rosario added 12 in the defeat.
The new ASEAN kings, on the other hand, were bannered by the 18 points and 10 rebounds of naturalized center Bolden, who played just his second game of the meet after sitting out their first four due to an injury.
Grahita provided 17 points. Rising star Derrick Xzavierro supplied 14 points and seven boards, as Brandon Jawato and Agassi Goantara chimed in 11 markers apiece in the victory that saw them nail a total of 13 three-pointers.
The victory should definitely bode well for Indonesia and its aim to develop the best team possible for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which it will be co-hosting together with Japan and, yes, the Philippines.
And eyes will surely be on the crew mentored by Milos Pejic if it can carry over its gains in the 2022 Asia Cup to be held in Jakarta in July, as they need to finish among the top eight to qualify for next year’s global conclave.
Indonesia 85 — Bolden 18, Grahita 17, Derrick 14, Jawato 11, Agassi 11, Prastawa 8, Kokodiputra 5, Saputera 1, Vincent 0, Wisnu 0.
Philippines 81 — Wright 23, Fajardo 20, Ravena T. 17, Rosario 12, Ravena K. 9, Tautuaa 0, Pogoy 0, Montalbo 0.
Qiuarterscores: 18-14, 36-32, 63-60, 85-81.