Gilas Pilipinas Beat Myanmar, Finish Southeast Asian Games Group Stage Unbeaten

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2019

Japeth Aguilar of the Philippines, center, waves with teammates after winning the Group B Basketball World Cup match against Senegal in Seville, Spain, Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. The 2014 Basketball World Cup competition will take place in various cities in Spain from Aug. 30 through to Sept. 14. (AP Photo/Miguel Angel Morenatti)
Miguel Angel Morenatti/Associated Press

Gilas Pilipinas finished the group stage of the men's basketball tournament at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games with an unbeaten record, winning their final match 136-67 over Myanmar.

After a sloppy opening quarter, the tournament favorites found their rhythm, outplaying Myanmar in all areas of the game. 

Gilas had already qualified for the semifinals with blowout wins against Singapore and Vietnam. Myanmar lost its first two matches by monster scores.

Gilas were expected to blow past Myanmar but were made to work in the first quarter.

Their massive height advantage was evident during the opening minutes:

ESPN5 @Sports5PH

Ball movement 💯 Gilas extends its lead to eight, 17-9, with 3:42 left in the opening period. 📺 @TV5manila 💻 https://t.co/9iuSkCkOyG #SamaSamaSaSEAGames #SEAGames2019 #WeWinAsOne https://t.co/YC2NdQMz3h

But for all of their physical superiority, Gilas struggled with their finishing and gave up far too many rebounds. The quick eight-point gap meant there was never any real panic to their game, but Myanmar took full advantage of some sloppy defending to keep pace in the first quarter, maintaining the eight-point gap after 10 minutes.

Myanmar even started to eat into the deficit in the second quarter before Gilas' bigs took over:

ESPN5 @Sports5PH

Big men connection! @cstandhardinger to @japethaguilar35 for the JAM! Gilas takes a 34-28 cushion over Myanmar with 8:35 remaining in the second frame. 📺 @TV5manila 💻 https://t.co/9iuSkCkOyG #SamaSamaSaSEAGames #SEAGames2019 #WeWinAsOne https://t.co/yTkk95OiVI

The size of Troy Rosario, Marcio Lassiter and Vic Manuel eventually wore down Myanmar's defenders, who had no answer when the favorites started to attack the post relentlessly. The three-point shots also started to go in, making matters even worse.

In the blink of an eye, the six-point game turned into a 30-point game, and by halftime, Gilas had built a commanding 41-point lead, led by Matthew Wright's 20 points.

The three-ball proved deadly:

ESPN5 @Sports5PH

.@Mr_Wright_ and Marcio Lassiter torched Myanmar.🔥🔥🔥 The two Gilas outside snipers combined for NINE three-pointers made in the second quarter alone! #SamaSamaSaSEAGames #SEAGames2019 #WeWinAsOne https://t.co/IdomWFkK2J

The second half brought more of the same, with Gilas moving the ball well and finding the balance between outside shooting and working the post. Myanmar's players had wasted all their energy defending in the first quarter and spent most of the second half chasing the ball.

Things got so out of hand the home crowd even took pity on the underdogs, cheering them on with "defense" chants in the final quarter. It did little to slow Gilas, who pushed their advantage to an incredible 69 points before the final buzzer sounded.

Gilas advance to the semifinals having dominated all three opponents in Group A, and more of the same is expected in the knockout stages.