MEDAN, Indonesia – The Powerade Team Pilipinas unleashed its awesome form through out to humble Indonesia, 103-64, before its home fans Sunday night and gain the first berth in the eighth SEABA Championship finale and the official ticket to the Asian world qualifier in China in August.
James Yap nailed five three-pointers and led all scorers with 21 points while Arwind Santos scored 10 points on dunks and finished with 18, leading the Nationals to the trouble-free victory over the Indonesians.
Despite the setback, the hosts could still end up notching the other Southeast Asian berth in the Asian joust.
Willie Miller, Gabe Norwood and Asi Taulava also finished in double figures for the RP team, which hardly lost its edge in skills and talent despite the loss of its players to injuries.
In fact, the Nationals became even more ferocious with their lineup reduced to 10 on the sidelining of Ryan Reyes and Jayjay Helterbrand.
“I knew we could play better than we did against Malaysia. And there were a lot of factors. First, it (Malaysia) was our first game after a long break. We’re in a new environment. But once they got used to it, everything went well,” said RP team coach Yeng Guiao.
“We want to be a fast-breaking team but with a lot of hustle in defense. That’s what the team did. We didn’t want to get excuses for one not to play defense that’s why we demanded everybody to exert effort,” Guiao said.
The Nationals did work well on both ends of the floor and even gave the jampacked crowd at the Angkasapura Lanud Basketball Hall some bonus with those electrifying jams from Santos and Norwood.
So impressed were the Indonesian fans that they mobbed the RP cagers after the game for souvenir photos and autographs.
“We knew we can’t match up with their skills and talent. We tried to keep the game close but we’re successful only in the early goings,” said Indonesian coach Raul Miguel Hadinoto.
Yap and Mick Pennisi strung up four straight triples as the Nationals broke the game open at 42-32 then never let up, leading by as many as 41 before coasting to a follow-up to their 100-73 rout of Malaysia Saturday.
Powerade RP was going for a sweep of the elims versus Singapore at presstime.
“I don’t want to push the boys too hard against Singapore. That’s our rest before the final game,” said Guiao.
“But we’ll take them seriously as much as we prepare for the final. Singapore is not as weak as some thought. Malaysia and Indonesia had problems with them,” Guiao added.
The Indonesians and the Malaysians, who both scored a close win over the vastly-improved Singaporeans, were to dispute the last final seat late last night.
“It’s going to be an interesting fight for second. Malaysia has the ability to beat Indonesia but the latter has a big advantage playing in its home court. I don’t have any preference whom to play in the final,” said Guiao.