December 17, 2017, 2:15 pm
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Gilas, Indonesia dispute title

BY MICHAEL JUGADO

GILAS Pilipinas and Indonesia clash today for the title in the South East Asia Basketball Association championship at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with the Indons parading two players who were given the green light to suit up in the tourney by FIBA last Tuesday.

Indon-American Arki Wisnu and naturalized player Jamarr Johnson suited up yesterday against lowly Myanmar and contributed as Indonesia posted a runaway 123-50 victory, its fifth straight in the tourney.

Johnson had 17 points on top of seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block while Wisnu had seven points.

Gilas was battling Vietnam last night, favored to match the 5-0 mark of Indonesia going into today’s clash for the title, with the winner clinching the lone slot in the FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut, Lebanon in August.

Johnson and Wisnu arrived with the Indonesian team last week but only watched as the Indons trounced Singapore 71-50, humbled Malaysia 63-42, nipped Thailand 60-59, and manhandled Vietnam 95-52.

“Indonesia already received the proper documents that will let the two players play,” tournament commissioner Wong Chung Min said last Tuesday, referring to Wisnu and Johnson.

The two needed a clearance from USA Basketball showing they have not represented the United States in international tournaments. Wisnu was born in New York while Johnson hails from New Jersey.

Gilas scored its fourth straight win last Tuesday night, whipping Thailand 108-53 after earlier trouncing Myanmar 147-40, humbling Singapore 113-66, and ripping Malaysia 106-51.

Against Thailand, Gilas managed just an 18-14 first quarter lead, bogged down by three turnovers and just three assists.

The team’s second unit led by Japeth Aguilar, Calvin Abueva and Terrence Romeo changed the complexion of the game in the second quarter, presiding over a fiery 33-12 blitz that took the game out of the Thais.

“We knew we will be tested in this game,” said Gilas coach Chot Reyes. “We knew we would struggle. Sure enough, we had 18 points in the first quarter. But when we got used to their length we were able to make some
adjustments. We also had five turnovers and only three assists in the first quarter so it wasn’t a good offensive performance.”

Reyes, 53, lauded Gilas’ “super subs” for giving the team the needed boost to dodge the upset axe wielded by Thailand.

“Our second unit gave us a great lift. Japeth played a hell of a ball game. It was the second unit with Terrence (Romeo), Calvin (Abueva), and Japeth which gave us the separation we needed in this ballgame,” Reyes said.

“Obviously in the first quarter we were not the best but I thought we did a good job making adjustments and buckling down from the second quarter onward.

“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 our shooters,” Reyes explained.

Thai gunner Chitchai Ananti went scoreless against the Philippines’ stingy defense while Wutipong Dasom was held to a measly two points after he scored a tourney-best 40 in Thailand’s 102-35 obliteration of Myanmar last Monday night.

“We came to this ballgame with the defensive focus of stopping number 77 (Ananti) because 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.

“Roger Pogoy did a great job at the start hounding him, and we wore him down with multiple defenders. I thought it was important to our defensive game plan, to shut down their best scorer and best offensive player.”
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