KUALA LUMPUR - Gilas Pilipinas got its act together just in time to beat Singapore, 68-60, and advance to the gold-medal match in the 29th Southeast Asian Games basketball competitions at the MABA Stadium.
Gilas was made to sweat by a gritty Singapore side, leading by only five points before Christian Standhardinger and Mike Tolomia combined for the crucial run inside the final five minutes.
The hard-earned win - the fourth in a row for Gilas Pilipinas - enabled the Philippines to advance to the final against the winner of the other semifinal pitting Indonesia and Thailand.
The finals will be played on Saturday.
Gilas gutted out the win despite shooting 13 percent from three-point range and making just four fastbreak points against a Singaporean side that deliberately slowed down the tempo.
The cadets shot just 38 percent from the field overall in their lowest-scoring match of the tournament, but found a way to win in the end.
"We didn't get it done but a win is a win," said Gilas coach Jong Uichico. "Forget about today, then we look forward to tomorrow. We are thankful that we got to the finals."
Troy Rosario topscored for Gilas with 14 points and 10 rebounds, but it was Standhardinger and Tolomia who combined in a critical 7-0 run that turned a 53-48 lead into a more comfortable 60-48 spread.
Tolomia also scored a reverse lay-up that put Gilas ahead, 62-50, with 3:23 left in the fourth period.
The Philippines was only up by one point in the second quarter when it went on a 10-0 burst capped by a Rosario three-point play for a 32-19 lead.
The nationals even posted a 41-26 edge in the third quarter only to let Singapore back into the game.
Russel Low Wenqiang, who was not in the Singapore lineup during the Seaba Championship in Manila, led the comeback and finished with 14 points.
Wong Wei Long added 12 for Singapore, which will play in the bronze medal contest against the loser of the Thailand-Indonesia semifinal contest.
Philippines (68) - Rosario 14, Standhardinger 13, Tolomia 10, Amer 8, Paras 7, Ravena 5, Parks 4, Pessumal 4, Ferrer 2, Cruz 1, Jose 0, Vosotros 0.
Singapore (60) - Low 14, Wong 12, Kwek 8, Liew 6, Ng 6, Folkoff 6, Goh 6, Chia 2.
Quarterscores: 15-12, 32-24, 49-42, 68-60.
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