RP captures third SEABA crown
() - August 23, 2003 - 12:00am
KUALA LUMPUR — The Philippines-Cebuana Lhuillier overcame numerous controversial calls that plunged it into foul trouble to defeat Malaysia, 96-81, Thursday night and sweep its way to a third straight Southeast Asian Basketball championship here.

The Filipinos, using a hastily formed squad from collegiate and commercial leagues, also booked a slot in the Asian Basketball Confederation championship next month in Harbin, China, along with runner-up Malaysia. Thailand defeated Vietnam, 81-77, to place third.

"The boys just won’t give up despite the poor officiating," said coach Aric del Rosario. "We still have a tendency to relax when we are having a big lead but more or less this is a complete team."

Still, Del Rosario said he wants to tap some collegiate players who are still playing in the UAAP and NCAA when the Philippines, supported by Jean Henri Lhuillier, competes in the ABC and eventually the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam in December.

The RP-Cebuana Lhuillier defeated Thailand (83-56) and Vietnam (99-48) before frustrating the host team, which also entered the Thursday game undefeated.

But that didn’t appear easy because of the dubious fouls called on the Filipinos, who had five of their men with four fouls each early in the fourth quarter, including top gun Gary David, who incurred his fourth foul just a minute gone by in the last quarter.

That juncture saw the Filipinos’ lead dwindle from as high as 17 points (56-39 in the third quarter to just seven (65-72) just two minutes into the final period.

"I know the calls won’t go our way so I decided to just attack Malaysia’s defense which we discovered to be weak," said Del Rosario.

His reliable wingman Emmerson oreta also exploded with four three-pointers, while Chris Dennis Madrid and Ranidel de Ocampo hit twice from the arc.

Late in the fourth, enforcers Willie Wilson, Richard Melencio and Ricaredo Calimag threw their weight around inside the paint, drawing fouls and free throws that allowed the Filipinos to put the game beyond doubt.

Bouyed by the hometown crowd waving flags, Malaysia kept the Philippines on its toes most of the first quarter, even scoring the first four points until David hit the first of his four three-pointers that brought down the opponents’ defenses.

Malaysia managed to hang on through the outside shooting of K. Satyaseelan, Lim Yik Kean and Johu ng Yeo Seng, closing in to with a single digit early in the second half 19-25, only to witness Oreta and Madrid fire from the long range.

Madrid’s jumper with 5:51 left in the second quarter enabled the Philippines to post a 39-25 bubble and gain control of the game.

Del Rosario, who was assisted here by his son Lester and another veteran national coach Dong Vergeire, said: "We realized that they can cut our leads but when we posted 15 point leads, I was very sure we will win the championships."

Malaysia, who won the inaugural SEABA title in 1994 when it was held here, made its last stand in the last six minutes when lanky forward Ong Hung Thiam split his free throw for a 70-78 lead.

But the Filipinos barreled their way to the Malaysian’s zone in the process making 14 points from the stripe in that quarter to secure the title.

ASIAN BASKETBALL CONFEDERATION BUT THE FILIPINOS CEBUANA LHUILLIER CHRIS DENNIS MADRID AND RANIDEL DEL ROSARIO DONG VERGEIRE GARY DAVID JEAN HENRI LHUILLIER LIM YIK KEAN AND JOHU ONG HUNG THIAM
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