How Gilas Pilipinas recaptured 2023 SEA Games Gold 2
Fil-German Gilas Pilipinas Forward Christian Standhardinger attacking the rim in the team’s first face-off with Cambodia. Photo courtesy Ariya Kurniawan​

Rewind: A look back at Gilas Pilipinas’ journey to supremacy at the 2023 SEA Games

Let’s explore the key factors that led to Gilas Pilipinas' return to the top of the podium.
GERALD P. GRANA | May 17 2023

It was certainly electrifying news and quite a remarkable victory for the Gilas Pilipinas men’s basketball team reclaiming the gold medal at the South East Asian Games 2023. In an intense showdown against the host country Cambodia, the Philippine men's basketball team showcased their undeniable skill, determination, and unwavering spirit, ultimately securing an impressive triumph. This monumental achievement not only highlights the team's exceptional talent but also serves as testament to their relentless pursuit of excellence. The win also signalled the 56th gold medal for the Philippine delegation.

But let’s delve deeper into the matches and explore the key factors that led to Gilas Pilipinas' return to the top of the podium.

The 2023 South East Asian Games – Men’s basketball tournament was participated in by eight nations namely Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and host country Cambodia. The games were held at Morodok Techno Indoor Sports Center in Phnom Penh from May 9 to 16.


Last May 9, Gilas Pilipinas started their SEAG campaign against Malaysia who was led by shifty 6’3” small forward Yi Hou Wong who scored 15 points and 7 rebounds. But that is all she wrote as Gilas Pilipinas won convincingly which was led by 6 foot 6 dynamo Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser with 15 points and center 6 foot 8 Michael Philipps getting 15 rebounds. Lassiter was perfect from rainbow territory in this game. The Gilas Pilipinas team was masterfully coached in this game by ever reliable Chot Reyes with his deputy coaches Coach Jong and Coach Tim Cone.  

Game Notes: Philippines shot poorly at 38% but Malaysia shot worse at 24%. Gilas Pilipinas had a massive 62 rebounds against Malaysia with 47. Philippines had 15 steals against Malaysia’s 5. Philippines also had 10 turnovers compared to Malaysia’s 26. Did you know the Malaysia team was coached by a Filipino, an Isabela native named Jeff Viernes?

Gilas Pilipinas vs. Cambodia at the 2023 SEA Games
Naturalized Filipino Justin Brownlee on the offensive penetrating to the basket against host Cambodia players. Photo courtesy Ariya Kurniawan via ABS-CBN News



This second game for me had a little controversy. This game ended with a sorry loss for Gilas Pilipinas who has never lost to Cambodia up to this point. But props to Cambodia who seemingly went all out in this campaign complete with six naturalized players as part of the Cambodia men’s basketball team. There was 6 foot 8 inches tall forward Dwayne Morgan, 6 ft 5 Sayeed Pridgett, Corban University player Darius Henderson, 5  foot  6 Anthony Dominic Dar, 6 ft 2 Darrin Dorsey, as well as 6 ft 8 center Brandon Peterson. Cambodia was coached by Armenian-Lebanon Coach Harry Savaya. Dorsey led the Cambodia team with 22 points and 7 assists. It was basically a one man show for Gilas with Standhardinger getting 14 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists. Sub par slippery basketball floor notwithstanding Gilas Pilipinas was stunned with a loss to the host team.

Game Notes:  Cambodia converted 12 three point shots compared to 5 by the Philippines.



After the sorry loss to Cambodia, Gilas Pilipinas had a huge comeback victory and drubbing against Singapore. Lassiter led the Gilas team with 16; Peres had 11 rebounds and Brownlee had 8 assists; Newsome had 7 assists on this master game. Gilas Pilipinas enjoyed its biggest lead in the game by 63 points at one point in the game.

Gilas Pilipinas was sharp as ever and had a whopping 60 points in the paint and the Gilas bench contributing 50 points.

Game Notes:

Philippines shot 56% on the field while Singapore shot 26%. Philippines garnered 57 rebounds while Singapore got 26. Philippines got 20 assists while Singapore got 10

Since GIlas Pilipinas was 2nd position after the preliminary round, they were eligible for the knockout round of Group B whose top teams were Indonesia and Thailand.



This was an exciting game I was keen to watch because Indonesia landed 1st place in the 2021 SEA Games and because they had a great coach at the helm, Serbian Milos Pejic. Despite having triple towers in the Indo team namely 6 ft 10 power forward Derrick Michael Xzavierro, plus centers 6 ft 10 Vincent Kosasih and 6 ft 11 Marques Bolden, it was still not enough to overcome Gilas Pilipinas overall.

In this game, Indonesia actually shot better at 46% but Gilas Pilipinas had more free throws, rebounds, and blocks to seal the win.

Game Notes:

Philippines got 43 rebounds against Indonesia’s 39. Philippines converted 12 free throws against Indonesia’s 8. Philippines had 4 blocks against Indonesia’s 0.

Gilas Pilipinas vs. Cambodia at the 2023 SEA Games
Gilas Pilipinas celebrates its victory over Cambodia in the gold medal game of men's basketball in the 32nd SEA Games. POC/PSC Media. 


As Cambodia won against Thailand in their semi-final match-up, it was a repeat showdown for the gold against Gilas and host Cambodia.

Considering their last head-to-head, Gilas Pilipinas adjusted and learned fast from its mistakes and had a solid game plan against Cambodia winning the game at 80-69. Gilas shot better overall in the field with 47% against Cambodia’s 42%. Gilas was better in two-point range with 54% compared to Cambodia at 51%, and 7 triples versus Cambodia’s 4. Justin Brownlee led the way for Gilas with 23 points, Newsome had 16 and Lassiter had 10. This time around, Cambodia’s bench was held to 6 points.

Gilas avenged their earlier loss to Cambodia and it could not have been at a better time, at the gold medal match.

Game Notes: Philippines made 32 field goals while Cambodia made 26. Philippines got 3 blocks against Cambodia 0. Philippines got 12 points off turnovers while Cambodia got 4.

Gilas Pilipinas players give coach Chot Reyes a victory ride after their victory in the gold medal game of the 32nd SEA Games against Cambodia
Jubilant Gilas Pilipinas team carries Coach Chot on their shoulders as Philippines regains SEA Games 2023 men's basketball gold. POC/PSC Media.

Overall, the men’s basketball campaign for this 2023 SEA games was accomplished. Could there have been more things to work on? Could there have been more time to practice and be better prepared? Most definitely, but let us give due credit to coach Chot Reyes and the Gilas Pilipinas team for a job well done. Their focus and sacrifice paid off. The Philippine nation rejoices at their victory and will sleep well for a couple of days with a smile on their faces. As we look back at the magnificent journey of Gilas Pilipinas men’s basketball team in the 2023 South East Asian Games, it fills us with immense pride and joy. The team's triumphant performance and gold medal win have undoubtedly inspired Filipinos all over the world. Their unwavering passion and unwavering dedication have captivated the hearts of fans, instilling a renewed sense of hope and excitement. 

As we celebrate this momentous victory, we eagerly anticipate the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup, set to take place from August 25 to September 10. With Gilas Pilipinas poised to showcase their skills on the global stage, Filipinos worldwide will unite once again, fervently cheering for their beloved team. The future looks incredibly promising, and the anticipation for the World Cup is palpable. Let us stand united in support as we embark on this thrilling basketball journey together. Go, Gilas Pilipinas!