Gilas Pilipinas opened its title-redemption bid in SEA Games basketball with a 45-point thrashing of Malaysia, 94-49, Tuesday at the Elephant Hall 2 of the Morodok Techno National Stadium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser made an impressive debut for the men’s 5×5 squad by scattering 15 points, 11 of which came in the opening half, while fellow national team newbie Michael Phillips collared a game-high 15 rebounds to go with 9 points.
Justin Brownlee played sparingly but still managed to contribute 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block in 15 minutes of action.
Arvin Tolentino and Marcio Lassiter added 10 and 9 points, respectively while the trio of Jerom Lastimosa, CJ Perez and Mason Amos chipped in 8 markers each.
Gilas head coach Chot Reyes stressed the need to start strong in line with their mission of reclaiming the gold medal which the country surrendered to Indonesia during the previous staging of the SEA Games in Hanoi.
“We challenged the first group to get us off to a good start. It’s really their responsibility to start us off well,” said Reyes.
The morale-boosting victory, however, came with a price as Calvin Oftana sustained an injury early in the match.
“Unfortunately, you saw what happened. We have a casualty right away. Calvin Oftana strained a calf muscle that’s why we didn’t play him anymore in the second half,” added Reyes.
The focus now shifts to a Cambodian team spiked by five naturalized players including the three members of the hosts’ 3×3 squad which won the gold medal – Sayeed Pridget, Brandon Peterson, and Darrin Dorsey.
Philippines 94 – Ganuelas-Rosser 15, Brownlee 11, Tolentino 10, Phillips 9, Lassiter 9, Lastimosa 8, Perez 8, Amos 8, Newsome 7, Oftana 5, Standhardinger 4, Ross 0.
Malaysia 49 – Yi 15, Chun 7, Xian 7, Tian 6, Zi 4, Jing 3, Yee 3, Meagan 2, Wee 2, Wen 0, Wei 0, Yong 0.
Quarterscores: 33-12, 58-22, 84-38, 94-49.