Gold for Sinag, silver for Perlas in SEA Games



NAY PYI TAW – A team built to run the opposition to the ground.

That was how head coach Jong Uichico described his Sinag Pilipinas squad that formally grabbed the men’s basketball gold medal Monday in the 27th SEA Games here.

Perlas Pilipinas wound up the country’s campaign with a 80-31 victory over winless Myanmar, salvaging the silver behind Thailand.

The Thais handily beat Indonesia 66-52 to pull off their own four-game sweep of the five-team tournament and claim a third crown in all.

Sinag’s achievement definitely stands out more.

The Filipinos emerged from the seven-team, single round competition as the only unbeaten crew, their 16th title run in this biennial meet highlighted by an average winning margin of 38.2 points.

“Mahihirapan talaga ang kalaban, kasi sa amin deep bench. That’s really our advantage here, aside from our talent. Ang iba kasi dito once na inalis ang starters nila mahina na,” said Uichico following the event’s closing ceremonies at the Zayar Thiri Indoor Stadium.

“P’wede rin kaming mag-sub (substitution) ng five for five. Tuloy, hindi napapagod ang mga players. They can keep on going until the other side breaks down. Hindi nga bumababa ang level ng laro. Kung minsan tumataas pa.”

What makes the romp more notable is the fact it was fashioned without a legitimate center aside from Marcus Douthit.

So Uichico settled for the next best thing. “We had to try quickness on both ends, score in transition and pressure them no end,” he stated.

Even the shaky 88-75 win over Singapore that launched Sinag’s campaign helped as Uichico gave his charges a tongue-lashing following a performance he blamed on complacency.

“It seems they took those words, that we cannot take anyone in this tournament for granted and we should always play the same way no matter who the opponent, to heart,” said Uichico.

Pity Cambodia and Myanmar, which got scythed to the tune of 107-57 and 118-43 counts, before Sinag got another real test in perennial challenger Thailand.

Whatever concerns Uichico may have had immediately vanished when his charges raced to a 29-17 first quarter lead, stretched that to 54-33 at the turn, went into the fourth with an 85-42 spread and cruised to a 100-68 win.

“They defended well and really played well,” noted Uichico. “That was the real gauge, not the games against Cambodia and Myanmar.”

An 83-52 win over Indonesia, followed by an 84-56 manhandling of Malaysia wound up the Sinag campaign.

Looking back, Uichico can’t help but also point out another factor that worked in their favor. “We kept on reminding them na halos hindi tayo natatalo dito at nagging challenge din sa kanila yon,” he said.

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