Against a stacked Thailand team, Gilas Pilipinas found itself pushed to the limit and barely pulled through, 76-73, at the start of the 31st SEA Games men’s basketball at the Thanh Tri Gymnasium in Hanoi, Vietnam Monday.
Shaky start and missed free throws at the finish took its toll on the Nationals who barely escaped on a muffed three-point try at the buzzer by a Thai gunner.
But a win is a win.
On a mission to extend the Philippines’ basketball reign to 14 SEAG editions, coach Chot Reyes and the Nationals nailed an opening win, and go for the second against Cambodia at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
After that, Team Phl faces Singapore Wednesday, Vietnam Thursday, Malaysia Saturday and Indonesia Sunday.
It’s a single-round-robin competition among seven teams. The team with the best record after one round automatically wins the championship.
Even with some PBA stars led by six-time MVP winner June Mar Fajardo, the Nationals faced a scare against the Thai team featuring several blacks who are supposedly Thai-foreign players.