AS he grabbed an offensive rebound early in the game, Andray Blatche didn’t have to jump over the three defenders surrounding him to get a shot off as the 6-foot-11 center simply raised his arms and took a shot from close range for the putback.
It was that kind of a night for Gilas Pilipinas as it coasted to a 147-40 victory over Myanmar for a rousing start to its Southeast Asian Basektball Association campaign on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Nationals scored the game’s first 17 points – including two from that Blatche putback, and would’ve added more had Jayson Castro didn’t commit an unforced error that resulted in an unintentional fastbreak layup by the Burmese.
The Filipino dribblers continued to be on cruise control after that on the way to annihilating their Asean neighbors by triple digits as they affirmed their status as the heavy favorites to defend the crown.
Calvin Abueva scored 22 points to lead nine players in double figures as prolific scorers Jayson Castro and Terrence Romeo didn’t have to shoulder significant offensive load, joining Raymond Almazan as the three players not to score in twin digits.
Allein Maliksi added 17 points, six boards, four assists, and four steals, while June Mar Fajardo chipped in 14 points and six rebounds. Jio Jalalon scattered 13 points, 10 assists, and six boards in his senior team debut.
“We told the players, a lot of times in international competition, tayo ang dehado. It’s very rare we come to a game na tayo ang llamado, so could we play with the same kind of intensity and effort even if you’re the favored team?” Gilas coach Chot Reyes asked his players before the game.
“As far as we’re concerned, we just wanted to make sure we are coming out and playing the game the right way,” he added as Gilas next faces Singapore on Saturday night.
Gilas kept its foot on the gas pedal as they sustained their sizeable lead that ballooned to triple digits, reaching the century mark with a little less than three minutes left when Pogoy scored on a layup that gave them a 140-40 lead.
Reyes, though, stressed that scoring was the least of their priorities.
“We just talked about not worrying about the extraneous things and just what we need to do to get the job done,” Reyes said. “The only thing we were concerned about was our hustle numbers—and not our points.”
The Filipinos heeded their coach’s call as they collected 25 steals and blocked 12 shots, forcing the Burmese to 38 turnovers that translated into 54 points, apart from outrebounding their opponents, 57-33, and having more assists, 45-8.
PHILIPPINES 147 – Abueva 22, Maliksi 20, Pogoy 17, Fajardo 14, Jalalon 13, Rosario 13, Wright 12, Aguilar 11, Blatche 11, Romeo 6, Almazan 6, Castro 2
MYANMAR 40 – Wana 12, Aung M. P. 8, Zaya 6, Aung P. W. 3, Tin 3, Sai 2, Thant 2, Sei 2, Kaung 2, Wai 0, Thein T. O. 0, Thein H. 0
Quarterscores: 32-7; 66-12; 110-29; 147-40