Philippines routs Bangkok for Stankovic crown

EARNS FIBA ASIA CHALLENGE CUP TICKET

The Philippines unleashed an oozing endgame rally to clobber Thailand, 97-80 and clinch the 5th Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) Stankovic Cup crown yesterday at Stadium 29 in Bangkok.

After nearly faltering in their first encounter, the Nationals - also known as the Gilas Cadets - came through with a gallant stand in the final period to pocket the crown and punch a ticket to the Fiba Asia Challenge Cup set from Sept. 9 to 18 in Tehran.

Mac Belo ignited the fourth-quarter uprising, scoring 10 of his 14 points to turn a precarious 69-66 lead into a comfortable 81-71 spread.

Then, swingman Mike Tolomia delivered a three-point basket before scoring on a short stab to give the Nationals an 87-72 lead to rip the game wide open entering the final two-minute mark.

Skipper Troy Rosario led the way with 17 points while Jio Jalalon had 16 markers for Gilas cadets, who flirted with disaster before escaping with a razor-thin 66-65 win over the Thais at the end of preliminaries Thursday night.

Tolomia chipped in 12 markers while Almond Vosotros and Roger Pogoy had 11 and 10 markers, respectively.

"Thank you to our Gilas cadets. You've just gifted our people with another championship," said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny Pangilinan. "Well done. You played with heart, character and pride. The future of Philippine basketball is in good hands."

The Nationals also battered the Thais in the rebounding department, 45-41, and shot better from the field with 40 percent clip while committing only 12 turnovers compared to their foes' 21 errors.

But still, credit should go to Belo, the Far Eastern University star who was instrumental in Gilas Cadets' gold-medal finish in the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.

With the Thais threatening to pull off another fourth-quarter rally, Belo threw a nice lob pass to Rosario early in the payoff period before scoring back-to-back three-pointers and a lay-up to keep the Filipinos safely ahead.

Jalalon joined the scoring parade with a layup to make it a 10-0 blast before Tolomia hit a trey to seal the victory and capture the gold medal.

Chitchai Ananti delivered 19 points and six rebounds for the home team.

Source: Tribune