Gilas gets vengeful win over Cambodia for SEAG basketball gold

Naturalized Filipino player Justin Brownlee takes it home with a slam.

PHNOM PENH – The most important gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games is back in the Philippines’ hands.

A determined Gilas Pilipinas side restored basketball pride to a country which considers the gold medal in this sport as equivalent to winning the overall title. Gilas scored a vengeful 80-69 win against a Cambodian team made up mainly of naturalized players on Tuesday and regained the SEA Games men’s basketball title that it lost to Indonesia a year ago in Hanoi.

Justin Brownlee scored 23 points while Marcio Lassiter, Christian Standhardinger, Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, CJ Perez, and Chris Newsome added at least nine points each as Gilas relied on its experience and depth to dominate the hosts before a raucuous home crowd that included no less than Prime Minister Hun Sen.

More importantly, the Filipinos restored pride in Philippine basketball just days after the team led by coaches Chot Reyes and Tim Cone took a lot of heat for a 79-68 loss to this same Cambodian team in the group stage.

Just a day after settling an old score against Indonesia in the semifinal with an 84-76 victory, the hot-starting Filipinos opened leads as big as 13 points and never allowed the hosts to get close enough to threaten.

Naturalized player Brownlee was mainly responsible for that, endearing himself to Filipino fans by keeping Gilas afloat time and again in an all-around performance that also included 7 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal, and a block.

Newsome added 16 points and 4 assists; Lassiter scored 10 points on two three-pointers; Standhardinger had nine points and seven boards, Perez chipped in nine points and five rebounds before fouling out, while Rosser came away with nine points and six boards in a pivotal role off the bench.

Peterson Jerome led Cambodia’s silver medal-winning team with 18 points and 14 boards while Darrin Dorsey added 17 points, although he was nowhere as consistent as in the two teams’ first meeting, making just 4 of 14 shots.

As a team, Cambodia went 4-of-19 from three-point distance.

Still, the hosts, unbeaten up until the finals, didn’t go away quietly, pulling within 59-64 in the final quarter behind a run of eight points.

But before things could get out of hand for Gilas, CJ Perez hit a clutch three-pointer from the top of the free-throw circle and Brownlee added another trey to bring the lead back to 70-59 with 6:04 remaining.

The scores:
Philippines (80) – Brownlee 23, Newsome 16, Lassiter 10, Ganuelas-Rosser 9, Perez 9, Standhardinger 9, Lastimosa 4, Oftana 0, Tolentino 0, Ross 0, Philips 0, Amos 0.

Cambodia (69) – Peterson 18, Dorsey 17, Morgan 13, Sayeedalkabir 13, Henderson 6, Lopes 2, Dominic 0, Pek 0, Chin 0, Chanyvathana 0, Ravuth 0, Toun 0.

Quarterscores: 21-22, 44-33, 64-51, 80-69

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