Gilas Pilipinas surrenders SEA Games basketball crown to Indonesia

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 22 2022 06:08 PM | Updated as of May 22 2022 08:16 PM

 Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes gives instructions to the Filipino players during a timeout. Photo courtesy of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes gives instructions to the Filipino players during a timeout. Photo courtesy of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.

(UPDATED) In an utter heartbreaker, Gilas Pilipinas failed to defend its crown in men's basketball in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The Philippine men's basketball team fell to a hot-shooting Indonesian squad, 85-81, on Sunday evening at the Thanh Trì District Sporting Hall to end a streak of 13 consecutive gold medals.

It's the first time since the 1989 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur that the Philippines will not bring home the gold. They settled instead for silver, ending their campaign with a 5-1 win-loss record.

Indonesia completed a six-game sweep of the competition to claim their first SEA Games gold medal, in what will surely be a boost for the nation as they prepare to host the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 together with the Philippines and Japan next year.

Matthew Wright scored 23 points, including a clutch three-pointer, while June Mar Fajardo had 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting on top of nine rebounds. Thirdy Ravena added 17 points.

But the Filipinos had no answer for Indonesia's three-point shooting, while they were cold from long-range all game long. With Chot Reyes using a shortened rotation, Gilas got little contribution from its bench, with Kiefer Ravena the lone reserve to score (9 points).

Fajardo, shackled in the first half due to foul trouble, dominated the third period and helped Gilas take a 60-54 advantage with just 1:31 to play in the period. The San Miguel big man scored 13 points in the frame, and put Indonesia's Derrick Michael Xzavierro and Marques Bolden in foul trouble.

But a three-pointer by Brandon Jawato with 64 seconds to go touched off a blistering 9-0 run by Indonesia, with Jawato beating the buzzer with another three-pointer that put his team ahead, 63-60.

Gilas would never taste the lead again. Jawato nailed a long two-pointer to open the fourth frame that made it a five-point game, and the Filipinos spent the rest of the period playing catch-up. The Indonesia lead reached eight points, 78-70, off a layup by Bolden with 3:29 to play.

The Filipinos got within one possession, 79-76, off two free throws by Wright with 1:18 to go. They forced a stop in Indonesia's next possession, as Andakara Dhyaksa bricked a three-pointer. But no one from the Philippines got the board, and Indonesia retained control of the ball.

Off a timeout, Agassi Goantara missed a layup but Bolden scored a putback over Fajardo, making it an 81-76 lead for Indonesia with just 41 seconds left.

A three-pointer by Wright -- just the third long-range bomb by the Philippines in the game -- cut the lead to two points, 81-79, with still 35 ticks left. Gilas got another chance when they forced a turnover in Indonesia's next possession, but Wright's short jumper that could have knotted the count was well-contested by Bolden.

Forced to foul, the Filipinos sent veteran Abraham Grahita to the line where he made two charities for an 83-79 count. A quick layup by Thirdy Ravena gave Gilas some life, 83-81, but Bolden coolly made both free throws off a duty foul by Troy Rosario to peg the final score.

Gilas shot just 43% from the game, including a paltry 3-of-16 from long distance. In a four-point loss, they missed eight of 32 shots from the free throw line. 

Indonesia -- which did not reach the podium in the 2019 SEA Games -- shot 47% from the field including 13-of-31 from long distance.

Bolden, a naturalized player, had 18 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks for Indonesia, while Grahita finished with 17 points. They also got a 14-point, seven-rebound outing from promising big man Derrick Michael Xzavierro, a 19-year-old who made history by becoming the first Indonesian to join an NBA Global Academy.

With Gilas Pilipinas' loss, Filipino basketball players will only bring home one gold medal from Hanoi. The Gilas Pilipinas Women retained their gold medal despite a slim defeat to Malaysia earlier in the day.

In 3x3, the Gilas Pilipinas Men settled for bronze, while the women's team missed the podium. The Philippines had swept the 5-on-5 and 3x3 events in basketball in 2019 in Manila.