Mark Angelo Mañez and Rob Andrew Dongiapon

Manila - Revenge is best served ice cold – and golden.

This is what Gilas Pilipinas had embedded into their system as they whipped host nation Cambodia, 80-69, and reclaimed their lost jewel at the Men's 5v5 Basketball finals of the 2023 Southeast Asian Games inside the Morodok Techo Basketball Stadium, Tuesday afternoon.

Photo Courtesy of Inquirer Sports

Naturalized Filipino Justin Brownlee, on his debut stint at the biennial event, towed the whole squad onto his back as he duplicated his mammoth performance less than 24 hours prior to the golden grudge match.

He finished with 23 markers, 7 boards, 4 dimes, an interception and a swat while being on the floor for almost the entire match. This was a perfect backup following his 34-9-5-3-2 stat line against dethroned champions Indonesia the night prior.

Both teams had earlier squared off in the event which ended in a disastrous beatdown, losing 79-68 to Coach Harry Savaya's import-laced Cambodians.

Cambodia, however, were led by Brandon Peterson with 18 points while no local player entered the field all throughout. Dwayne Morgan and Darrin Dorsey backed him up with 13 points apiece.

The protagonists traded shots right at the get go as Brownlee took charge on both ends of the floor, scattering 15 right away until the Cambodians had the lead after ten minutes, holding a precarious 22-21 lead.

Tides turned as he, Chris Newsome and Marcio Lassiter stepped up to keep the Cambodians at bay. Newsome chucked in 16 markers for his name, while Lassiter picked himself up with his own 10 point production.

Gilas imposed "weak" coverage – a defensive strategy that forces a play to play with his weak hand – with throughout the matchup, disrupting the tempo of the Cambodians.

Defensive coverages were huge factor in the Gilas' tight domination as the Nationals pretty much clamped down Cambodia's half court offense on multiple stretches — a testament to the superb schematic scouting played by the Gilas staff.

Diana Mae Salonoy