MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE)—The Philippines women's basketball team is off to a winning start in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, after a thrilling 63-56 triumph over Indonesia at Mall of Asia Arena on Thursday.
Jack Animam stepped up on both ends in the fourth quarter, and the Gilas women limited their foes to just 11 points in the payoff period to secure a first victory in the four-nation meet.
Animam, a former UAAP Most Valuable Player, finished with 9 points and 12 rebounds, while Janine Pontejos had a team-high 16 points along with 5 steals. Kelly Hayes put up 12 points, and Afril Bernardino bucked a foul-plagued game for 7 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds.
"I’m just happy na again thankful, na we passed Indonesia. For the past two Southeast Asian Games that we played, this is one of the teams that tormented us," said head coach Pat Aquino.
"As I've said to the team earlier, if we pass Indonesia, I mean, our foot is inside the box already."
The Philippines had a bright start, leading early behind buckets by Pontejos and Hayes. But Indonesia soon caught up when veteran forward Sophia Gabriel began to assert herself inside the paint. Indonesia claimed a slim 34-31 lead at halftime, with Aquino calling on his team to make adjustments.
"In the first half, we were giving out so much second-chance points, not really being patient, trying to be a one-on-one team. We stressed that at halftime," Aquino said.
"Fortunately, we did adjust well, and won the game."
Indonesia led by seven points in the third quarter, the last at 40-33 with more than 8 minutes left off a bucket by Kadek Dewi. That was when Animam and Pontejos went to work, with the former scoring inside and the latter drilling a triple to spark the Filipinas' comeback.
The Gilas women took the lead for good when Ria Nabalan drained a three-pointer for a 47-45 advantage with more than a minute to go in the third quarter. A bucket by Hayes gave the hosts a four-point spread to open the fourth, before Animam took over.
She scored 6 points in the fourth, including the layup off a pick-and-roll with Pontejos that made it an 8-point game, 59-51, with less than 3 minutes left. The Philippines' defense held firm the rest of the way, and Pontejos iced the game from the free throw line.
It was a tremendous outing for Animam, who is still playing with a mask after sustaining an orbital fracture during the 2019 FIBA Women's pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in New Zealand two weeks ago.
"Hindi ko na iniisip na may injury ako. Parang kinalimutan ko na na meron akong injury," said Animam.
Anggraeni Yuni led Indonesia with 16 points, while Gabriel had 8 points and 10 boards, but also committed 7 turnovers.
The Filipinas play Malaysia on Saturday.
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.
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