RP 5 completes SEABA romp
() - May 29, 2007 - 12:00am

RATCHABURI, Thailand –The SMC-RP team accomplished its mission in SEABA with a 96-76 win over Thailand last night, frustrating the cheering hometown crowd at the Ratchaburi Gymnasium even as it earlier secured passage to the Tokushima qualifier.

The Nationals swept the opposition by an average margin of 38.5 points but coach Chot Reyes insisted the team has a long way to go to be competitive enough to achieve its goal of making it all the way to the Beijing Olympics.

Against the Thais, Reyes felt his troops played a game that might not even be good enough to beat a team like Chinese Taipei.

“We achieved our mission here, but there’s still a lot to be done to be on a level where we can compete against the Chinese, Lebanese, the Syrians, the Koreans,” said Reyes.

“Essentially, we’re cramming. We have two months for Tokushima. To be honest, I don’t know if it’s doable but we’re going to give it our best shot,” Reyes added.

In a bid to boost their stock, Reyes intends to recruit two or three more players to join them in training and in their travel abroad. He’s looking at Willie Miller, Kelly Williams and US collegiate player Gabe Norwood.

Indonesia clobbered Thailand, 65-55, late Sunday night to get the second SEABA slot in the FIBA-Asia Olympic qualifier in Tokushima, Japan in July.

Though out of it all, the Thais put up a brave front against the Filipinos, staying in the fight up to the early part of the fourth quarter.

Egged on by the cheering crowd, the Thais had their last hurrah as they came within 11 at 77-66 on an 11-0 start in the final quarter.

Mark Caguioa, Danny Seigle and Jimmy Alapag joined forces in a 16-6 run as the Nationals eventually put the game away and completed their four-game sweep of the seventh SEABA men’s championship.

The SMC-RP team earlier trounced Singapore, 122-55, clobbered Indonesia, 85-48, then ripped Malaysia, 102-72.

“Before the tournament, we talked about going here and not going back to the Philippines without winning the crown,” said Reyes.

“We practiced in the morning, played in the afternoon and did some weights at night. We made it difficult for ourselves with the end view of improving for the Tokushima tourney,” Reyes added.

Reyes said they go back to twice-a-day practice at home on June 4.

The Thais came out strong, starting with a 10-2 run and enjoying a 24-23 lead going into the second period.

Thailand was the only team here to lead over the Philippines in the first quarter. In fact, the Thais surrendered only the two middle quarters as they also outscored the Filipinos, 21-19, in the final canto.

“A win is a win. We still have a lot of work to do but we‚re celebrating,” PBA commissioner Noli Eala told the team after the game.

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