Gilas Women fall to Malaysia, still cop SEAG gold

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 22 2022 11:54 AM | Updated as of May 23 2022 09:38 AM

Janine Pontejos scored 18 points against Malaysia on Sunday morning. PSC/POC Pool Photo.
Janine Pontejos scored 18 points against Malaysia on Sunday morning. PSC/POC Pool Photo.

(UPDATED) The Gilas Pilipinas Women failed to complete a sweep of the 31st Southeast Asian Games, falling 96-93 to Malaysia in a heartbreaker on Sunday morning at the Thanh Trì District Sporting Hall in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Despite the defeat, the Gilas Women will still retain their gold medal, having won their previous four assignments in the SEA Games.

It was a bittersweet victory for the Filipinas who were hoping to win all five of their games in Hanoi, but fell short against a Malaysian squad that pushed them for 40 minutes. 

Neither team could gain control in the tight affair, but the Filipinas appeared headed for victory when they surged ahead, 93-86, with 2:33 to go off a circus shot by Chack Cabinbin. Veteran guard Janine Pontejos found her rhythm late, with back-to-back triples to push the Gilas Women ahead.

But Cabinbin's shot -- an awkward toss to beat the buzzer -- turned out to be the Filipinas' last points of the game. Yap Fook Yee sparked Malaysia's run with a layup, and Lee Phei Ling knotted the count at 93 with just 65 seconds to play.

The Filipinas couldn't execute offensively in their next trips, with Pontejos misfiring on a turnaround jump shot. On the other end, Chong Yin Yin drilled a three-pointer -- Malaysia's 13th of the game -- to give her team the lead with 17.2 seconds to go.

The Gilas Women couldn't execute out of a timeout, with Cabinbin getting blocked by Yin Yin on a midrange attempt.

Despite the disappointing end to their campaign, the Filipinas are still assured of the gold medal after comfortable victories in each of their first four games -- including a 93-77 rout of second-running Indonesia in their opening match.

The Gilas Women actually clinched the gold on Saturday night, when host nation Vietnam defeated Malaysia, 69-65.

Pontejos finished with 18 points, while Afril Bernardino capped a superb tournament for the Philippines with 16 points, seven rebounds, seven steals, and three blocks. Gabby Bade (13), Ella Fajardo (12) and Angelica Surada (10) all finished in double-digits while coming off the bench. 

But Malaysia turned the tables on the Filipinas, who had used their pressure defense to score easy points in transition in their first four assignments. The Gilas Women committed 22 turnovers in the game, leading to 31 points for the Malaysians.

Fook Yee and Yin Yin each scored 25 points, and Pang Hui Pin added 21 points and 10 rebounds for Malaysia, who shot 47% from the field.

The scores:

Malaysia (96) - Yap 25, Chong 25, Pang 21, Saw 10, Toh 7, Foo 6, Lee 2, Low 0, Tan 0, Lee 0. 

Philippines (93) - Pontejos 18, Bernardino 16, Bade 13, Fajardo 12, Cabinbin 10, Surada 10, Castillo 5, Clarin 3, Tongco 3, Berberabe 2, Guytingco 1, Castro 0.

Quarterscores: 25-28, 58-54, 77-71, 96-93.