By Jonas Terrado
(Mall of Asia Arena)
6 p.m. — Malaysia vs Philippines
Gilas Pilipinas opened its bid for an elusive gold medal with a 63-56 win over Indonesia in women’s basketball competitions of the 30th Southeast Asian Games at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Janine Pontejos scored 16 points, Kelly Hayes had 12 points and Jack Animam added nine points and 11 rebounds to power the national cagebelles to victory despite trailing by seven in the third quarter.
Coach Pat Aquino’s team trailed 40-33 almost two minutes into the third but countered with a 12-5 run, capped by a Ria Nabalan triple to head into the payoff period ahead 47-45.
The trio of Pontejos, Animam and Hayes then outscored Indonesia 8-2 to open the fourth for a 55-47 lead.
Gilas is aiming to sweep the four-team, single-round tournament in order to win the country’s first gold in the standard 5-on-5 event.
The Philippines takes a three-day off before returning to action Sunday against defending champion Malaysia, which started its bid for a third straight gold on the wrong foot.
The Malaysians were pounded 70-47 by Thailand in Wednesday’s opener.