MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Japeth Aguilar exploded for a tournament-high 23 points and 5 rebounds, leading the Philippines to a 108-53 drubbing of Thailand in the 2017 SEABA Men's Championship on Tuesday, May 16 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Aguilar did much of the damage, leading a decisive 33-12 surge in the second quarter to turn a 4-point first quarter lead to another demolition job for the superior Filipinos.
The Barangay Ginebra forward made all 10 of his field goal attempts, which included highlight dunks and a 3-pointer, in just 17 minutes of play. His only miss of the night came from the free throw line, where he went two-of-3.
"Japeth played a hell of a ball game," coach Chot Reyes praised the 6-foot-9 Aguilar, who has been on the national team since 2009. "The second unit with Terrence Romeo, Calvin Abueva, and Japeth gave us the separation we needed in this ball game."
Calvin Abueva, who has been productive this tournament, posted 15 points on 5-of-9 shots and dished out 6 assists. Guard Terrence Romeo added 11 markers while naturalized center Andray Blatche registered 11 points with 7 rebounds.
June Mar Fajardo was one point shy of a double-double with 9 markers and 11 boards.
Gilas struggled offensively in the opening quarter and at one point conceded an 8-7 lead to the Thais, who gave the Filipinos a different look compared to its previous foes.
"Well we talked about it, my first words in the pregame is we will be tested in this ball game. Thailand is playing very well, they're long, they're athletic, and they're well-coached. They do a great job of packing the shaded lane defensively and use their length to close out on shooters," Reyes explained.
"We knew we would struggle, we would get tested in this game. Sure enough we had 18 points in the first quarter. But you know when we got used to their length, we were able to make some adjustments. We also had 5 turnoverss and only 3 assists in the first quarter so it wasn't a good offensive performance."
Those 18 first quarter points were the fewest Gilas scored in the tournament so far. They averaged 33 points during the opening periods of their previous 3 games. But the Philippines cruised after its second quarter recovery, leading by as many as 59 points late in the fourth.
Teerawat Chanthachon topscored for the Thais with 16 points plus 7 rebounds.
Reyes said his specific instructions were to shut down shooting guard Chitchai Ananti, who played in last year's Stankovic SEABA Cup tournament where they nearly upset the Gilas cadet team twice.
The defensive game plan was successful as Chitchai went scoreless and attempted only 3 shots in over 15 minutes. Prior to this game, Chithai normed 24 points and shot 37% from the field. He also averaged 6.5 rebounds and two assists in 31.5 minutes through two games.
"We felt that he was Thailand's top scorer. He can flat out play and he scores in a lot of ways so we challenged our defenders to lock him down," Reyes said. "RR pogoy did a great job at the start of the game hounding him, and we wore him down with multiple defenders."
This is Gilas' fourth consecutive victory and they inch closer to securing a spot in the FIBA Asia Cup and Asian Qualifiers later in the year. Thailand fell to a 3-2 record.
The Philippines' next opponent is Vietnam on Wednesday.
Philippines (108): Aguilar 23, Abueva 15, Blatche 11, Romeo 11, Fajardo 9, Malicsi 8, Wright 7, Rosario 6, Castro William 6, Jalalon 6, Almazan 4, Pogoy 2.
Thailand (53): Chanthachon 16, Muangboon 7, Klahan P 7, Samerjai 7, Ghogar 6, Sunthonsiri 4, Klahan C 2, Dasom 2, Boonserm 2, Ananti 0, Jaisanuk 0, Lodliang 0.
Quarter Scores: 18-14, 51-26, 80-43, 108-53.