THAILAND was already proving that truly, the region is catching up on the Philippines when it comes to men's basketball.
Unfortunately, that narrative was only good for one half.
Gilas Pilipinas, challenged by the intensity of the opposition, eventually decided to step on Thailand's neck and deliver a 34-point beatdown for the gold medal-clinching 115-81 victory in the 30th Southeast Asian Games on Tuesday.
The conquest completed a Philippine sweep of all four basketball events in these staging of the regional conclave as the hosts soared to their 18th men's basketball title, and 13th straight, in front of 12,462 paying fans inside Mall of Asia Arena.
June Mar Fajardo, without a match in the country and all the more in the region, unloaded nine of his 17 points in the third period where the Filipinos broke away for good with a quick 10-0 spurt for a 58-39 lead with 7:27 remaining.
By the time the five-time PBA MVP was done feasting on his defenders, Chris Ross was already setting up the Gilas gunners like LA Tenorio, Matthew Wright, and Marcio Lassiter three-point bombs that highlighted a 40-point third quarter storm.
Fajardo also added 13 rebounds as he played in perfect harmony with Christian Standhardinger, who led the Philippines with a double-double of his own with his 16 points and 11 rebounds.
LA Tenorio shot 4-of-6 from downtown for his 16 points, Wright had 14 points powered by his 4-of-7 clip from threes, and Stanley Pringle added 13 points, four rebounds, and four assists.
Vic Manuel, easily the breakout star of the Games, added 14 points and two rebounds in the clincher, while Kiefer Ravena had 10 points and four assists as he won an unprecedented fifth SEA Games gold medal.
Mission accomplished was this all-pro squad as eight of the 12 players of the team, as well as coach Tim Cone, got their first gold in the biennial meet.
Tyler Lamb led Thailand in the silver medal finish with 33 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and two steals in the defeat.
PHILIPPINES 115 - Fajardo 17, Tenorio 16, Standhardinger 16, Wright 14, Manuel 14, Pringle 13, Ravena 10, Ross 8, Lassiter 3, Aguilar 2, Rosario 2, Slaughter 0.
THAILAND 81 - Lamb 33, Jakrawan 15, Suttisin 7, Leelapipatikul 7, Chanthacon 6, Jaisanuk 6, Muangboon 3, Chungyampin 2, Klahan 1, Langsui 1, Ananti 0, Apiromvilaichai 0.
Quarters: 25-17, 48-39, 88-54, 115-81.