Rosario leads Philippines to rout of Malaysia in SEABA Cup opener

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Gilas Pilipinas cadet team started slow but surged in the second half to blast Malaysia, 108-84, to open the 2016 SEABA Stankovic Cup on Sunday, May 22 at Stadium 29 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Team captain Troy Rosario, also a member of the Gilas Pilipinas senior team pool, finished with 19 points and 8 rebounds. Mac Belo had an almost perfect night with 6-of-7 shooting from the field for 16 points to go with 3 rebounds and two steals.

"We're happy we got the victory today. Our timing is not really good yet. But i know we’ll play better the next few days," said head coach Nash Racela in the post-game interview. He noted a specific area of improvement for the cadets in the coming days.

"It's our defense. We can't allow our opponents to score more than 80 points every ballgame. We need to work on our transition defense."

Guard Mike Tolomia came up with 13 points, 4 assists, and 6 rebounds, while Kevin Ferrer chipped in 12 markers off the bench, including 6-of-8 free throws.

NCAA star playmaker Jio Jalalon had 10 points with 3 assists, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals.

Meanwhile, Yi Hou Wong had a game-high 22 points for Malaysia on 7-of-16 shooting from the field, including 3 treys. Chee Kheun Ma added 15 points as captain Yoong Jing Kwaan had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The Philippine team, comprised of collegiate standouts, was quick to pull away for 10-point bubbles early on but Malaysia hung tough, cutting the deficit to 9 in the third quarter.

The cadets found their groove soon after as team captain Troy Rosario slammed home a follow-up dunk on the break off a Mike Tolomia lob. Ball movement and shooting started to click, too, as the cadets pulled away for 23-point bulges and an 80-60 edge entering the final frame.

The Filipinos never looked back. They face Singapore next on Tuesday, May 24.– Rappler.com