Already assured of the gold medal, the Philippine women's basketball team leaned on veterans Janine Pontejos and Afril Bernardino in a tight contest but still fell short against Malaysia, 96-93, to close out their campaign in the 31st SEA Games on Sunday.
The Gilas Pilipinas Women were denied a sweep of the tournament but will still take home a second consecutive gold in the 5-on-5 event night by virtue of Malaysia's 69-65 loss to host Vietnam on Saturday.
The Filipina ballers struggled to contain the gutsy Malaysians in the first half, which ended with the Philippines trailing by four, 58-54. Malaysia was leading most of the way before Ella Fajardo tied things up and eventually gave her side the lead, 20-17.
The opposing camp, though, was able to counter the defending champions' punches to hold the lead at the break.
Pontejos and Bernardino tried to spark some momentum for the Filipinas but Malaysia came prepared in the game to end the third frame holding on to a six-point cushion over the Philippines, 77-71.
Pontejos then sank a triple before back-to-back baskets by Bernardino gave the Philippines an 83-81 advantage halfway through the payoff period. Eight straight points from Bernardino, highlighted by two cold-blooded triples, saw the Filipinas ahead by six, 91-86.
But Malaysia would come back and a huge three-pointer from Ching Yin Yin, though, denied the Filipinas a tournament sweep, 96-93.
Pontejos finished with 18 points, six rebounds, three assists, and a steal while Bernardino chipped in 16 markers, seven boards, seven steals, and three blocks.
This was the closest game so far for the Philippines as they have won their last four assignments by a winning margin of at least 16 points.
—JMB, GMA News