MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Gilas cadets survived a serious threat to the Philippines' regional basketball supremacy as they outlasted a gritty Indonesia, 72-64, to win the gold in men's basketball at the 2015 Southeast Asian Games on Monday, June 15 in Singapore.
The Indonesians put up a gallant stand against the cadets, forcing the Philippine team to its lowest scoring production all tournament long.
Mac Belo was aggressive and poured 22 points on 5-of-7 field goals and went 11 for 13 from the free throw line. Kiefer Ravena and Troy Rosario added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Marcus Douthit had a quiet 3 points and 4 rebounds.
Indonesia took the fight to the Philippines as they threatened and came dangerously close at 59-56 with 5:09 left to play but Ravena took over with a defensive stop that led to a breakaway jam to stretch Gilas' lead, 61-56.
Douthit followed that up with a putback slam as Ravena and Belo clinched the medal with late free throws.
Indonesia, which the Philippines defeated by 29 in the opener, kept in step with the sloppy and struggling cadets, outscoring them by 38-33 in the second half.
Philippines coach Tab Baldwin said his team was "not rattled" even when Indonesia all but caught them in the last period.
"I am happy that we had to fight to get a gold medal, that’s a better experience for us than to win by a huge margin, we grow from these experiences a lot,” said the Gilas Cadets coach.
"It’s a gold medal performance throughout these games and I am extremely proud of them," he added.
Photo by Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee/Action Images via Reuters
Gilas stayed composed amid the rally and the risk of suffering a huge upset.
"The chance to win gold medal is there, we have proven it today," said Indonesia’s coach Fictor Roring.
"I am still convinced, one day it will happen."
Sandy Febrianysah Kurniawan led the silver medalists with 16 points while Christian Sitepu and Arki Dikania Wisnu added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Gilas registered 21 turnovers, tied with Indonesia, and shot 40% from the field. The cadets had more opportunities at the line but muffed too many free throws going 25-of-35.
The Philippines's campaign proved shaky towards the end as they were likewise threatened by Thailand in the semifinal.
The cadets gave the Philippines its only gold for the second to the last day of competitions and improved its medal haul to 29-36-66.
– with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com