MANILA, Philippines—Eight years since he last played in the Southeast Asian Games, Barangay Ginebra center Greg Slaughter has certainly seen how much the Philippines' neighbors have improved in basketball.
Slaughter was part of the squad that steamrolled their opposition to win the gold in the 2011 SEA Games in Jakarta. Then a member of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, Slaughter had 16 points and 8 rebounds in the gold medal game against Thailand, an 85-57 win for the Philippines.
A late replacement for the injured Roger Pogoy in the 2019 SEA Games, Slaughter got off to a slow start against Singapore but found his rhythm against Vietnam on Friday night, putting up 10 points in 12 minutes to help Gilas Pilipinas to a 110-69 win.
"I think we just wore them down. We got such a deep team. We’re 12 deep," Slaughter said after the game, which put the Philippines into the semifinal. "They didn’t quite have the luxury of having as many players on their rotation."
"It took us a while to shake them, but I think just ‘cause we’re such a deep team we were able to wear them down," he added.
Though it was another dominant win for the Filipinos, Slaughter still saw plenty of improvement in Vietnam in particular and from other Southeast Asian countries in general. Eight years ago, he had a team-high 20 points when the Philippines clobbered Vietnam, 107-53, in the group stage as well.
"Oh man," Slaughter said. "Compared to 2011, these teams have really come a long way . . . It's just night and day, how far they've come from 2011 when we played them."
"A lot of teams are on the rise now," he also said, noting that Vietnam already has its own basketball league, the Vietnamese Basketball Association, which features six teams including Saigon Heat.
"They've been doing that (VBA) for three or four years. You can definitely the competition is rising in Southeast Asia."
The Philippines remains a cut above the rest of the field, however, with Slaughter pointing out that Gilas has just made it to back-to-back FIBA World Cups. Still, to see the other countries level up is an encouraging sign for the big man.
"It's just nice to see not only our neighbors, but ourselves are all on the rise in Southeast Asia," he said.
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