Gilas Pilipinas Regains Southeast Asian Games Men's Basketball Gold: A Triumph of Grit and Determination

The gold medal in men’s basketball at the Southeast Asian Games has once again found its way back home. In a remarkable display of determination and resilience, Gilas Pilipinas triumphed over the host country Cambodia with a score of 80-69, reaffirming their dominance in the 32nd edition of this biennial event held in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. Leading the charge for the Filipinos was the exceptional Justin Brownlee, who contributed 23 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. His relentless efforts, particularly in the second quarter, allowed Gilas Pilipinas to seize control of the game and establish an insurmountable lead. In addition, the electrifying atmosphere at the Morodok Techo National Stadium Elephant Hall 2, which included the presence of the Cambodian Prime Minister, further fueled their motivation. Brownlee’s outstanding performance saw him amass 15 points in the first half alone, ensuring Gilas Pilipinas entered halftime with a comfortable 44-33 advantage. Not to be overshadowed, Chris Newsome also delivered an impressive performance, contributing 16 points, marking his best game of the tournament. Meanwhile, celebrating his 36th birthday, Marcio Lassiter added 10 points, including two successful three-pointers.
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This victory holds special significance as it allows the Philippines to reclaim the gold medal they had relinquished to Indonesia during the previous edition of the Games in Hanoi. Furthermore, it serves as a testament to the team’s unwavering spirit. Also, it restores pride in Philippine basketball, particularly after their earlier loss to Cambodia during the preliminary stage, where the Cambodian side was bolstered by six naturalized players and emerged victorious with a score of 79-68.

Reflecting on the journey, coach Chot Reyes acknowledged the doubts surrounding the team after their initial defeat. With his fist clenched in the air, he confessed, “We needed that loss.” This setback motivated Gilas Pilipinas to claim an 84-76 victory over Indonesia in the semifinals, earning them another opportunity to face Cambodia.

Christian Standhardinger and CJ Perez, who scored nine points, and Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, who matched their output, contributed to the team’s success. Notably, Ganuelas-Rosser’s performance featured an impressive one-handed dunk, further solidifying the Philippines’ lead at 42-29 with just over three minutes remaining in the first half. Despite the valiant efforts of Cambodia, led by Brandon Peterson’s 18 points and 14 rebounds, they fell short in their pursuit of victory, trailing 59-64 in the final seven minutes. However, Brownlee and Perez promptly responded with consecutive baskets from beyond the arc, reestablishing Gilas Pilipinas’ commanding lead at 70-59. It is worth highlighting that this silver medal is Cambodia’s first-ever podium finish, marking a significant milestone for their basketball program. In a separate match, Thailand managed to exact revenge against Indonesia, securing the bronze medal with a decisive 83-69 win. After succumbing to the Indonesian team with a score of 87-69 during the preliminary stage, Thailand showcased its resilience and claimed its fourth consecutive podium finish at the SEA Games. Previously, they secured the runner-up position to Gilas Pilipinas during the 2019 edition held in Manila. In a disappointing turn of events, Indonesia, who emerged as gold medalists in Hanoi last year, they failed to defend their title after suffering a loss to the Philippines in the semifinals, concluding with a score of 84-76.


Looking ahead, Gilas Pilipinas’ triumphant return to the top of Southeast Asian basketball sets a strong foundation for future success. With their renewed confidence and valuable experience gained from this victory, they are poised to dominate in upcoming international tournaments. In addition, the team’s cohesive gameplay, under the guidance of Coach Chot Reyes, has proven to be a winning formula that can propel them to greater heights.

As for Cambodia, their remarkable performance in securing the silver medal signals a significant breakthrough for their basketball program. This achievement will undoubtedly inspire and motivate their players to continue improving and striving for success in future competitions. With the support of their passionate fans and the valuable experience gained from this tournament, Cambodia’s basketball team is poised for a bright future.


In conclusion, Gilas Pilipinas’ successful campaign in the 32nd edition of the Southeast Asian Games men’s basketball competition showcases their unwavering determination and skill. With Justin Brownlee leading the charge and supported by standout performances from Chris Newsome and Marcio Lassiter, they reclaimed the coveted gold medal. This victory not only restores pride in Philippine basketball but also sets the stage for continued success on the international stage.

The emergence of Cambodia as a formidable force in Southeast Asian basketball is another important outcome of this tournament. Their silver medal finish, the first-ever podium finish for the nation, reflects their basketball program’s rapid growth and development. In addition, it serves as a testament to their players’ and coaches’ hard work and dedication.

Gilas Pilipinas and Cambodia can draw valuable lessons from this tournament. Gilas Pilipinas will seek to maintain its dominance and build upon its success, aiming to achieve even greater triumphs in future international competitions. On the other hand, Cambodia will use this experience as a stepping stone, fueling its determination to continue improving and establishing itself as a force to be reckoned with in Southeast Asian basketball.

The 32nd Southeast Asian Games men’s basketball competition has undoubtedly provided thrilling moments and showcased the talent and passion of the participating teams.

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