Cambodia def Gilas Pilipinas, 79-68 [2023 SEA Games | May 11, 2023]

The Philippine men’s basketball team faces its acid test in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games as it battles an opponent previously not in everybody’s radar, but suddenly has become a major threat and a serious contender for the gold.

The Filipinos take on host Cambodia at 6 p.m. Thursday (Manila time) at the Morodok Techo National Stadium Elephant Hall 2 as they dispute the solo lead in Group A.

Gilas is coming off a 94-49 romp of Malaysia in the opener in a rousing start to its bid of regaining the gold in the biennial meet.

But the Cambodians served notice too, of their crack at a back-to-back gold in men’s competition after drubbing Singapore, 85-60, on Wednesday to join the Filipinos on top of their group.

Cambodia will again parade the trio of Sayeed Pridgett, Darrin Dorsey, and Brando Peterson, who steered the country to its first 3×3 SEA Games gold medal by beating the Philippines in the finals.

But they also get added help from three other naturalized players in Oscar Lopes, Dwayne Morgan, and 6-foot-9 center Darius Henderson.

Lopes, who previously played for DePaul and Central Michigan University, topscored for the host with 19 points in its 25-point blowout of Singapore, while Henderson added 18 points and seven rebounds.

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