Photo from PSC-POC Media

Gilas Pilipinas’ successful defense of the gold ended on a sour note Sunday, May 22 after squandering a lead late before suffering a 96-93 loss to Malaysia in the women’s basketball competitions of the 31st Southeast Asian Games.

The Filipina cagers failed to score after taking a 93-86 lead with 2:28 left as the Malaysians, who gave Gilas an excruciating time since the start, rallied back to tie the game inside the Tranh Tri Gymnasium in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Chong Yin Yin then nailed down the go-ahead triple for Malaysia with 17 seconds left before Gilas failed to come up with a good attempt at tying the score as time expired.

Coach Pat Aquino’s squad finished the campaign with a 4-1 record, but will step on the top of the podium even if Indonesia ends up prevailing over Singapore later in the day because of the winner-over-the-other tiebreaker.

Gilas defeated Indonesia, 93-77, almost a week ago.

The Philippines came into the match with the gold already secured following Malaysia’s 69-65 loss to host Vietnam the other night. Gilas also won all of the previous four matches by double digits with an average margin of 22.5 points.

But the Filipinas spent the contest playing catch up as Malaysia led 58-54 at the half and 77-71 going into the fourth.

It appeared that Gilas was already in control when Janine Pontejos scored eight points on two triples and a basket that made it 91-86.

Chack Cabinbin scored a runner which extended Gilas’ lead to seven, much to the delight of the Filipino crowd.

But Fook Yee Yap scored for Malaysia while Gilas’ Katrina Guytingco muffed two foul shots with under two minutes remaining.

Fook Yee completed a three-point play before Lee Phei Ping made a layup after another empty possession by Gilas to tie the count at 93-all, barely a minute to go in the ballgame.

Pontejos missed a turnaround shot and a jumpball was called, with the possession arrow pointing to Malaysia.

The left-hander Yin Yin would come through with the three, then Gilas struggled to find a clear chance at a three as the Malaysian defense forced Guytingco to pass it on the baseline to Cabinbin, whose two-point shot was blocked as the seconds ticked away.

Pontejos topscored for Gilas with 18 points with Afril Bernardino adding 16 points, seven rebounds, seven steals and three blocks.

Source: Manila Bulletin (