The Philippine Gilas Cadets will go home with their promised gold for the Filipinos as they nipped the feisty Indonesia squad, 72-64, to be hailed as the Men’s Basketball Division Champion of the 28th Southeast Asian Games on Monday, at the OCBC Arena, Singapore.
With the PH Cadets’ enormous victory, they made a full-sweep of the SEA Games basketball tournament and proved the mighty and unwavering hearts of Filipinos in every battle.
Moreover, this knockout championship gave the Philippines its 17th overall SEA Games basketball gold medal, where the country proved too much except for the 1989 SEA Games stint held in Kuala Lumpur and the 2005 edition hosted by the Filipinos.
Far Eastern University-represent Rey Mark “Big Mac” Belo proved to be a hero for the Philippines as he led the joust with his 22 points and kept the fighting spirit of the Gilas Cadets hyped amidst the huge threat inflicted by a gritty Indonesian side in front of an overwhelming Filipino supporters.
The Gilas Cadets have just come off a near-death combat over a rough Thailand squad in an 80-75 playoff win the night before the finals match, but the PH collegiate stars-bannered team went on another virtual workout against a taller-Indonesian side, which made the predominant Filipino crowd hold their breaths until the final seconds of the pressure-filled rally.
Heading to the breathtaking finishing kick, the Philippines pinned the Indonesian ballers down by as much as 18 points, only to see themselves stunned by the latter squad when it trimmed the large deficit down to 3 points to keep the scores close.
Kiefer Ravena became the team’s stabilizer once again when he sparked a late fightback, stealing a supposed Indonesia assist and made his way to score a layup, 61-56, to snatch the lead back for the Gilas Cadets inside the final 4:30 of the game.
As the Filipinos cheered their hearts out inside the OCBC Arena, so as the Gilas ballers who were already hugging each other in anticipation of the final buzzer that will signify the Philippines championship victory. Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin, who was previously putting his fist on his heart to boost the cadets, let out a sigh of relief as the clock finally went off to announce the Gilas’ championship.
The PH Gilas Cadets championship medal is also the 29the overall gold medal tallied for the Philippines, which still remains on the sixth spot of the SEA Games contention.
Ateneo standout Kiefer Ravena chipped in 12 points to list his third Southeast Asian Games gold medal, while National University’s Jeth Troy Rosario added 11 points for the Philippine Basketball Team.