JACK Animam towed Gilas Pilipinas Women to a big 63-56 victory over Indonesia to start its 30th Southeast Asian Games campaign Thursday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The former UAAP MVP, still wearing a protective mask after suffering an orbital fracture two weeks back, scored six of her nine points in the fourth period to start the Filipinas' campaign in this short four-team tournament on a high note.
Animam also grabbed 12 rebounds and had four blocks to lead the Philippines.
Janine Pontejos also put the finishing touches in the victory, drilling four charities as she led Gilas Women with 16 points, five steals, three assists, and two rebounds.
Kelli Hayes added 12 points and two rebounds in a game that saw the Filipinas fight back from a seven-point deficit midway through the third period before finishing strong in the final canto.
It was a huge sigh of relief for Philippines coach Patrick Aquino to overcome Indonesia, with the visitors always playing the role of the pests for the hosts' podium aspirations.
"I’m just happy and thankful na we passed Indonesia," he sighed. "For the past two Southeast Asian Games that we played, this is one of the teams that tormented us. As I've said to the team earlier, if we pass Indonesia, our foot is inside the box already."
The Philippines now shifts its attention to 2017 gold medalist Malaysia in a high-stakes battle on Sunday.
Yuni Anggraeni led Indonesia with 16 points and six rebounds in the loss.
Sophia Gabriel was held to just eight points and was forced to commit seven turnovers despite her 10 rebounds and three blocks.
PHILIPPINES 63 -- Pontejos 16, Hayes 12, Animam 9, Bernardino 7, Nabalan 7, Castillo 6, Jose 4, Prado 2, Cabinbin 0, Tongco 0, Castro 0, Chan 0.
INDONESIA 56 -- Anggraeni 16, Sutijiono 10, Gabriel 8, Dewi 8, Wulan 7, Antonio 4, Retong 3, Wongsohardjo 0, Widyami 0, Kahol 0, Lovita 0.
Quarters: 15-15, 31-34, 47-45, 63-56.