Gilas Pilipinas made true to its word and punched a ticket to the Asian championships, beating Indonesia, 97-64, to sweep the 2017 Seaba Championship on Thursday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Andray Blatche paved the way for the Philippines’ successful title defense, going 7-of-12 from the field and 4-of-7 from threes to finish with 21 points and 10 rebounds in just three quarters to lead the home team to the victory.
Undefeated going to the final game of the tourney, the Indonesians posed the biggest threat to the country’s throne.
But Blatche and Jayson Castro William were quick to bring Indonesia back to Earth as the duo buckled down to work early and anchored the Philippines’ offensive flurry, stringing 12 straight points to set the tone for the game with an early 22-point cushion, 34-12 late in the first quarter.
Though the offense seemed to have soured in the second frame, Gilas came out sniping anew in the next two periods, with Terrence Romeo and Matthew Wright soon finding their range to open the floodgates and cruise to its sixth straight win.
Castro wound up with 14 markers, seven boards, and five assists, while June Mar Fajardo saved his best offensive game for last with 13 points, four rebounds, and two blocks.
Gilas commanded the boards, 53-25, and dominated the paint, 40-22, which helped the squad extend the lead to as high as 38, 95-57, with the game already secured.
Coach Chot Reyes expressed glee with how his team responded to the challenge of the field as the Philippines brandishing once again its dominance in the region by winning by an average of 58.6 points.
“We knew we were going to be tested, and I felt we were ready for it,” he said.
With its eighth Seaba Championship in the bag, Gilas will now prepare for the Asia-Pacific heavyweights as it advances to the 2017 Fiba Asia Cup on August in Lebanon.
Arki Wisnu captained Indonesia with 11 points and four assists, while Mario Wuysang got 10 markers, five dimes, and two boards.