SEA GAMES: RP IS BASKETBALL KING, BUT 5TH OVERALL
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, Aug. 16, 1999 - The Philippines defeated main rival Thailand to capture the Southeast Asian games basketball gold, 89-69, at the University of Brunei Sports Center Sunday.
It was the fifth straight basketball gold for Philippines.
Although the Thais led 5-0 and then 10-7, they never tasted the lead again after the Filipinos shook off early jitters and grabbed the lead, 11-10, on a short jumper by Gilbert Demape. The Philippines led at halftime, 49-30.
Celedon Camaso sparked a 14-3 run to put the Federal Express-sponsored Nationals ahead by 22, 84-62, with three minutes remaining.
"The key to this victory was our outside shooting," said head coach Louie Alas after taking his victory ride. "I told the boys before the game that they have to do their best and prove that they deserve to play here in the SEA Games."
With lack of time to form a national team Alas had opted to use the core of the MBA Metrostars team, reinforced by Pampanga Dragons' Renato Morano, Laguna Laker's Wynne Arboleda, Blu Detergent's Ernesto Billones and collegiate player Kerby Raymundo, to form the national team for the SEA Games.
"Sa mga titulo na nakuha ko, ito ang pinakamasarap," said the 32-year-old Alas whose other championships include the first SEABA President Joseph Estrada Cup last June, the SEABA 18-Under Championship and the NCAA last year and the 1996 SEABA 22-Under Championship two years ago. Alas was one of the assistant coaches of Eduard Vergeire when the Philippines bagged the crown in the Jakarta SEA Games in 1997.
The individual scores: Billones 22, Demape 12, Arboleda 12, Adducul 12, Serrano 9, Camaso 10, Dela Rosa 4, Martin 4, Morano 4, Raymundo 0.
The Filipinos remained king of basketball and added the 9-ball individual event to their collection Sunday, but fell one short of their 20 gold medal target. The Philippines slumped to its worst finish since joining the Southeast Asian Games in 1977.
The Filipinos slid to fifth place in the overall medal tally, just eight years when they nearly toppled Indonesia from first place with a haul of 91 gold medals.
The victory in basketball capped a week in which the Filipinos failed to win a gold medal in swimming for the first time and came home with a single gold in athletics. Those two events alone offer 73 gold medals.
Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Butch Tuason said the fact that the Filipinos won 27 silver medals is a good indication, but stressed that there is a need to concentrate on medal-rich sports. "Let's focus more on the medal rich individual events in athletics, swimming and even pencak silat."
In billiards, Lee Van Corteza scored an upset victory over compatriot Leonardo "Dodong" Andam in an all-Filipino final in the 9-ball individual event. Corteza turned back Andam, 15-12, to cap the Filipinos' four-gold romp in billiards, a harvest matched only by Taekwondo.
The Filipinos also picked up two golds each in boxing, golf, shooting and won a gold each in karate, tennis and tenpin bowling. World pool champion Efren "Bata" Reyes and golfer Gerald Rosales were the only Filipino double gold medallists in the Games.
Philippine Olympic Committee president Celso Dayrit announced a four-year intensive elite sports development plan which the POC will undertake.
"Our athletes here did their best and many of them showed their potentials," said Dayrit who acted as the Filipinos' No. 1 cheerleader in the Games.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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