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Gilas Pilipinas belles salvage silver

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF SEAG POOL | CLARE Castro (right) and the Gilas Women team settle for silver medal in the women’s basketball competition of the 32nd SEA Games.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Gilas Pilipinas Women squad let its cannons loose in its final game, booking a 77-63 win over Malaysia to secure the silver medal in the women’s basketball event of the 32nd Southeast Asian Games on Monday at the Elephant 2 Hall of Morodok Techo National Stadium.

Janine Pontejos and Camille Clarin caught fire early, opening the match with three three-pointers to dictate the tempo and demoralize the Malaysians, who own 13 SEA Games gold medals.

A mainstay of the Gilas program, Pontejos hit 4-of-8 from the rainbow area to tally 19 of her 24 points in the first half before being hampered with foul trouble in the second.

Clarin and Khate Castillo had two treys apiece as the Filipinas set the tone early by hitting 10 three-point shots in the first half for a comfortable 48-29 lead.

Gilas also displayed aggressiveness early on by picking up 10 steals that they translated into 16 turnover points.

Castillo ended up with 18 points and her two treys late in the game sealed the victory over their longtime SEA Games rivals.

Clarin, for her part, added nine markers, all of them coming from beyond the arc.

“We came here to play basketball. The best result is always welcome,” Gilas women’s coach Patrick Aquino said.

“The important thing is giving everything all we’ve got all the time. Unfortunately, we didn’t win the gold, but we did our best. So, it’s good for us.”

The Philippines failed in its bid to win its third straight gold medal after losing to Indonesia in the preliminaries.

Indonesia swept all its six games on its way to winning the gold medal.

Jack Animam, who just returned to the Gilas program and played in her first major tournament since missing last year’s gold medal campaign, is elated over the accomplishment of the squad.

“It’s painful that we didn’t get our goal of winning a third straight gold medal,” Animam said.

“But this team is special because we never gave up. We were always there for each other. It’s really like a family and I’m so happy to rejoin this team.”

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