By Waylon Galvez
Gilas Pilipinas clobbered Myanmar 130-67 Saturday to complete a three-game elimination round sweep while formalizing its entry to the basketball semifinals of the 30th Southeast Asian Games at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Matthew Wright scored 29 points while Vic Manuel added 24 points with 11 rebounds, and Troy Rosario came off the bench to added 16 points to lead the Gilas onslaught.
Marcio Lassiter and Kiefer Ravena contributed 15 points apiece for the national team, which is eyeing an 18th gold medal in the biennial meet.
“We were trying to find the balance between playing the game hard and not to run up the score,” said Gilas mentor Tim Cone. “Obviously there is a big gap between the two teams in terms of talent.”
“The SEA Games is all about competition and friendship. We’re here not to create enemies. We don’t want to discourage them. We want to be respectful, at the same time plays the game the right way.”
“We also wasn’t to create good habits for the next game,” added Cone
The Philippines’ win sealed the top spot for Group A after it finished the eliminations with a perfect 3-0 card, while Myanmar finished winless in three matches.
The national team will face in the crossover semifinals Indonesia, which ended the eliminations with a 2-1 record to claim second place in Group B behind No. 1 team Thailand with a 3-0 card.
Thailand meets Vietnam – No. 2 in Group A with a 2-1 slate – in the other semifinal pairing scheduled Monday at the same venue.
Indonesia has Serbian mentor Rajko Toroman, and Cone said Gilas is looking forward to that faceoff.
“We all know how great he’s been. He’s the founder of the Gilas program. He contributed a lot to what we have now. He’s a good friend of mine,” said Cone of Toroman, who handled the original Smart Gilas Pilipinas from 2009 to 2011 and even served as an active consultant in the PBA with Petron and Barako Bull.
“But we have something we have to do and go out. We’re not going to hold anything back,” he said.
With the playoffs coming this week, Cone opted to rest June Mar Fajardo, who played for more than 30 minutes against Vietnam last Saturday, as well as guard Stanley Pringle.
“June Mar was really worn out, he has no injury. Stanley’s aching a little bit but nothing major. We decided to give them rest and get them, him ready for semifinals. No injuries involved, it was coaches’ decision to rest them,” said Cone.
PHILIPPINES 136 — Wright 29, Manuel 24, Rosario 16, Lassiter 15, Ravena 15, Aguilar 12, Slaughter 10, Tenorio 9, Standhardinger 6, Ross 0, Fajardo 0, Pringle 0
MYANMAR 67 — A. Myint 28, Chin. Ta 14, Justin 6, W. Aung 5, P. Sar 4, S. Tun Tun 4, Laja 4, S. Oo 0, T. Zaw 2, A. Hzaya 0, K. Htut 0.
Quarters: 32-24; 77-36; 104-49; 136-67.