Gilas cadets rip Thais, retain SEABA crown
Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - May 29, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Gilas cadet team banked on the exploits of Mac Belo, Troy Rosario and Jiovani Jalalon to finish with a flurry and smother Thailand, 97-80, for the coveted crown in the 2016 SEABA Stankovic Cup at Stadium 29 in Bangkok, Thailand yesterday.

Dragged to a battle by the Thais for more than three-fourths of the way, Belo, Rosario and Jalalon worked on a decisive attack midway through the final quarter as Gilas gained some breathing space and fended off the gritty challenge of the home team.

From a precarious 69-66 lead, Belo nailed back-to-back treys then a twinner to touch off Gilas’ flying finish that culminated the team’s five-game sweep in the five-nation SEABA eliminator for the FIBA Asia Challenge in Tehran, Iran in September.

“Congrats Gilas! And thank you to these brave 12 who answered the call! SEABA Champs,” said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny V. Pangilinan on his Twitter account after the gold-medal game.

Troy Rosario, a Tropang TNT rookie in the pros, top scored with 17 points that went with seven rebounds and three assists against four errors in 23:55 minutes of action.

National U guard Jiovani Jalalon also produced good all-around numbers with 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one steal while Belo, Chris Tolomia, Almond Vosotros and Roger Pogoy contributed double-digit markers as Team Phl reasserted its domination of Southeast Asian basketball after title runs in the SEABA Championship and SEA Games in Singapore last year.

Team Phl carved this Stankovic Cup crown with mostly collegiate players with only a three-week training under UAAP champion coach Nash Racela.

The Gilas cadets barely escaped with a 66-65 win over the Thais in their non-bearing elims tussle last Thursday.

It helped that the Filipinos found their touch this time, improving on their woeful 3-of-37 three-point shooting in their previous face-off.

The Gilas cadets fired away 12-of-32, the most crucial being those back-to-back treys Belo rattled in from a 69-66 count.

Vosotros, the other pro player on the team besides Rosario, went 3-of-4 from the arc to highlight his 11-point game he laced with four rebounds and one assist.

Rosario and Ferrer fired two triples each while Tolomia, Pogoy and Jalalon had one apiece.

The Thais connected with a 10-of-28 three-point clip.

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