The Gilas Pilipinas juggernaut needed over 20 minutes to get started but when it did, a gutsy Vietnam opponent just couldn’t keep up anymore.
Up by only 12 at the turn, the Gilas cagers shifted to high gear in the second half to carve their way to a 110-69 triumph and a 2-0 start in the 30th Southeast Asian Games men’s basketball pool play Friday at MOA Arena.
The Tim Cone-coached squad unleashed June Mar Fajardo in a searing 28-17 third-quarter exchange that catapulted the hosts to a 23-point tear, which they went on to stretch until the final buzzer en route to their expected stint in the semifinals.
“It’s a real struggle early,” said coach Tim Cone, whose wards couldn’t fully shake off the pesky Vietnamese in the first half, particularly Vietnamese-American Chris Dierker, who already accounted for 19 through two quarters.
“Vietnam got some real athletes, different from (first day opponent) Singapore and they had a go-to guy in Dierker, it was tough matching up with his size and quickness. But as expected, we’re a team that wears opponents down with our depth and talent.”