MANILA, Philippines — They were billed as Gilas’ toughest foes in the 2017 SEABA Championships. On Thursday, in the battle for the gold medal, Indonesia proved that indeed, they were.
Even after losing in blowout fashion, they still gave the hosts a run for their money—even for just a couple of minutes.
Indoneisia’s veteran cager and ABL legend Mario Wuysang knew exactly that.
“Philippines is a tough team. Gilas is a tough team. We knew that coming in,” he said on his way out of the Big Dome. “We respect them a lot. We know they’re preparing for something bigger. We just wanted to go out there and compete, give it our best, and put up a fight.”
Indonesia, which entered the final match touting a spotless card in five outings, bowed to Gilas, 64-97. They had the narrowest margin of defeat—33 points—among the Philippines’ preys.
For Jamarr Johnson, a naturalized big man who came in a match before the clash with Philippines, echoed the same sentiment.
“I knew coming in that it was going to be a challenging experience for us,” he said. “They have three 6’10” guys and like a really solid core. They’re just too big. They killed us on the rebounds, they killed us on second chance points, they killed us on offensive rebounds.”
“They were just a little too big for us today,” Johnson added.
Wuysang, a veteran of many Southeast Asian Games, added that Indonesia is not wallowing in self-pity, and added that they are actually setting their sights on the SEA Games.
“We’re just building chemistry. We take a lot from this. We worked on our chemistry, on our system, mainly because we haven’t practiced as much as a team,” the 38-year-old cager said.
“We have imports now in our pro league. That’s gonna help the progress of the abilities and the competition level of our local guys,” he added. “We can progress, you know.”
“In basketball you need a couple of things. You need athleticism and you need size. And the Philippines have both of that,” Johnson chimed in. “Until we can actually get to a place where we have size and athleticism to compete, it’s gonna be hard for any nation to beat Philippines.”
“They’re bigger than us in so many ways but our management is satisfied with how we performed,” the big man closed.