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Gilas topples Indonesia, seals gold, WC elims seat

Gilas Pilipinas’ Jayson Castro goes for an easy layup against Indonesia during their final encounter in the 2017 SEABA Men’s Championship at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City yesterday.

MANILA, Philippines - Gilas Pilipinas played up to its lofty tag as the Dream Team in this side of the world, routing Indonesia, 97-64, last night to cap a week of blowouts in the SEABA Championship and claim its rightful place among the Asia/Oceania heavyweights that slug it out in a qualifying series for the next World Cup.

The Nationals were adored by the cheering home crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum as they took the podium with the gold medal – the first important step in their quest to make the 2019 world championship in China.

They stood tall at the end of the weeklong one-round-robin SEABA competition where they swept away the opposition by a whopping average of 58.6 points.

Andray Blatche and the super assembly of 11 PBA players, earlier, crushed Myanmar, 147-40; blasted Singapore, 113-66; trounced Malaysia, 106-51; mauled Thailand, 108-53; and flattened Vietnam, 107-52.

Their dominant SEABA championship also meant Team Phl qualified to play in the FIBA Asia Cup slated in Beirut, Lebanon in August.

“We qualified in the FIBA Asia. That’s the most important thing we achieved here,” said Gilas coach Chot Reyes.

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“Obviously, we’re still feeling and knowing each other. There’s still a lot to improve on. In this game, we’re overeager and we committed numerous errors. But the important thing is we made it to the next level,” Reyes added.

In the World Cup qualifier, Team Phl is heading to a grouping with Australia, Japan and Chinese Taipei in the first round of the series of eliminators that will run all the way to 2019.

The goal is to make the top seven in the Asian competition to qualify to the 2019 world joust.

“We wanted to make sure to get this. Now, first order is to sit down with the SBP management and with the PBA to figure out the schedule and the program,” said Reyes.

“This is just the first step. We have a long journey ahead,” Reyes added.

Reyes and his new Gilas group completed their initial task in taking the best the Indons could offer.

Blatche, June Mar Fajardo, Jayson Castro, Allein Malicsi and RR Pogoy returned as starters and they worked on Gilas early breakaway.

For a while, the Indons stymied the Filipinos’ run with a shift to zone defense in the second quarter. But Gilas got back into the groove before the halftime break and the Nationals led by 21 at 51-30 going into last two quarters of play.

Blatche came back from a day rest and came up with 21 points and 10 rebounds while Castro stepped up in the biggest moment of the tourney, piling up 14 markers, seven rebounds and five assists. 

Gilas Pilipinas faces a tremendous task of tapping talented  Fil-foreigners and  imports willing to undergo  naturalization process  and play for Team Phl in the opening stages of the Asian World Cup qualifiers.

This came about on the last day of the SEABA Championship last night during  the Nationals gold medal match with the Indonesians.

Gilas officials, have in fact, started their search for Fil-foreigners and an import who will take over Andray Blatche’s position in the team.

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