Team Philippines-Mindanao bucked some bad calls early but made quick adjustments to score a lopsided 109-63 win over Sulsel-Indonesia in the finals to bag the most precious gold medal in men’s basketball of the 9th BIMP EAGA Friendship Games on Saturday.
Playing before a pro-Indonesian crowd at the Sempaja Gym in the East Kalimantan city of Samarinda, the Dabawenyo cagers fell down 4-10 in the first quarter that had a spate of bad calls going in favor of the hosts.
“Medyo hindi maganda tawagan sa simula. Maganda rin defense nila sa start. We can not execute our half court offense kasi tina-trap kami sa halfcourt,” said Philippines-Mindanao coach Ice Gravador in an online interview with Edge Davao.
After a timeout, Gravador mapped out a counter-attack.
“I told the boys to engage in a running game so that we don’t have to break their press everytime.”
That ploy did not work out that easily though. They had to engage the Indons in a tight first quarter before throwing the game wide open in the second quarter as they surged ahead by 16 points.
“We had some opportunities sa primary break kaya naka luwag konti,” Gravador said.
The Dabawenyos executed their plays well from there as they find the Indons further behind the rear view mirror as the game wore on.
Gravador went to a “small ball” rotation to finally nail the championship that mattered most to Dabawenyos back home—a basketball gold.
James Linares, Michael Gonzaga, Joshua Aguilon, Harry Dumagan, Jhaystone Oquias, Jim Yap, Mark Francisco, and Harrold Nebria connected from the distance to underscore the Dabawenyos’ firepower.
Asked of the team’s strengths, Gravador said, “Deeper bench. Kaya I told them to push the ball. I want their second stringers to go up against ours kasi may advantage.”
Team Mindanao-Philippines, composed of 13 players from Holy Cross of Davao College and one from Ateneo de Davao University swept their first three matches by an average margin of 54 points.
They opened their campaign with a 92-51 spanking of Indonesia’s Kalteng squad then followed it up with an equally devastating 87-36 rout of Kaltim-Indonesia.
On Friday, the Davao City cagers flashed its deadliest form as they notched their third straight win in as many starts with a 119-49 massacre of Kaltara-Indonesia.
The Holy Cross Crusaders in the team are Joshua Aguilon, Harry Dumagan, Harold Nebria, Mark Francisco, Lean Martel, Jhaystone Oquias, Jim Yap, James Linares, Kenn Gudes, Bernard Gutierrez, Michael Gonzaga, Loid Unson, and CJ Gonzales. The lone Ateneo player in the team is Ivan San Diego.
Meantime, Davao City head coach Ice Gravador has earned praises from his peers in the Indonesian teams.
In his Facebook page, Indonesian coaches were all praises for Gravador and wished they will learn from him.
Central Borneo team manager Berto Leiden said they have much to learn from the Philippine coach.