FOR the first time ever, the Philippines is the queen of women's basketball in the region.
Gilas Pilipinas Women finally realized their dream by turning back Thailand, 91-71, to reign as the Southeast Asian Games champions for the first time ever on Tuesday night.
A capacity crowd inside the Mall of Asia Arena stood witness to a coronation of a new powerhouse in the region as the Filipinas not only made their return trip to the podium but also won the elusive championship.
Jack Animam delivered on a promise, firing eight of her 21 points in the crucial third quarter while also hauling down five rebounds and rejecting two shots to finally get the sweet celebration she was longing for.
Animam and Afril Bernardino anchored that huge third quarter assault where the hosts outscored the silver medalists of the 2017 SEA Games, 23-9 in the period alone.
That stretch also saw the Philippines turned a close 52-48 lead into a commanding 63-48 advantage, with Chack Cabinbin's layup with 4:13 remaining in the frame capping off the huge 11-0 run.
Bernardino, Gilas Women's do-it-all star, tallied only 10 points, but was happy to set her team up with her 14 boards, five assists, and two blocks.
Janine Pontejos also scored 16 points built on three triples, alongside five rebounds and four assists, while Kelli Hayes and Khate Castillo both had 11 in the conquest.
"I'm just so happy for the girls, for what they achieved. Now, we hope na mapansin niyo na kami," said an emotional coach Pat Aquino.
Tiffany Bias led Thailand with 15 points, four rebounds, and four assists as her side once again settled for the silver.
PHILIPPINES 91 - Animam 21, Pontejos 16, Hayes 11, Castillo 11, Bernardino 10, Cabinbin 7, Jose 6, Nabalan 5, Prado 2, Castro 2, Tongco 0, Chan 0.
THAILAND 71 - Bias 15, Kunchuan 12, Udomsuk 12, Yothanan 10, Kaichaiyapoom 5, Maihom 4, Supyen 3, Buapa 3, Klunbut 2, Phromrat 2, Sangmanee 0.
Quarters: 27-20, 45-43, 68-52, 91-71.