Batang Gilas nails World Cup berth
MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Batang Gilas turned back Bahrain, 67-52, to punch home a ticket to the FIBA Under-19 World Cup on Thursday, August 9, at Nonthaburi, Thailand.
AJ Edu was stellar as usual, finishing with a full line of 16 points, 17 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. His frontcourt star partner Kai Sotto added a game-high 21 points, 10 boards and 3 rejections.
The victory in the knockout quarterfinal match secured the Philippines a spot in the last 4 of the FIBA U18 Asian Championship, as well as the right to represent Asia in the world stage next year.
It's the first time the Philippines reached the U19 World Cup since 1979.
Just last month, Batang Gilas saw action in the U17 World Cup where they finished 13th overall, the country's all-time best record in the tournament. (READ: Batang Gilas nabs record-high World Cup finish)
With 8 minutes left in the final frame, NU Bullpups stalwart Joshua Ramirez created a comfortable 8-point cushion, 53-45, off a triple from a Dalph Panopio dish. The Fil-Italian hotshot followed this up with a beautiful alley-oop dime for a soaring Sotto slam, 55-45, with 5:20 left.
Sotto crushed home one more dunk for good measure, 61-47, as a final nail in Bahrain’s coffin.
But the young Filipinos, still unbeaten in 4 games, will face their toughest opponent yet in the knockout semifinal on Friday, August 10.
Title-favorite Australia arranged a last-4 showdown against the Philippines after drubbing Japan, 88-52, in their own quarterfinal duel.
Baqer Ali paced the Bahraini side with 13 points and 3 rebounds with 3-of-5 (60%) shots from downtown.
The Philippine youth team made up for a forgettable second quarter by opening the 3rd with a 15-2 attack, 41-36, highlighted by a go-ahead, two-hand flush from Sotto, and ending with a corner triple from Oczon. However, Bahrain inched back to within one possession at the end of the 3rd, 45-48.
After a stellar 20-11 first-quarter run, Batang Gilas got absolutely wrecked in the second by Bahrain’s press defense and perimeter shooting. The underdog squad jumped to a 34-26 lead at the half after manhandling the Philippine side, 23-6, for the entire second period.
Batang Gilas (67) – Sotto 21, Edu 16, Oczon 10, Ildefonso 6, Panopio 4, Abadiano 3, Ramirez 3, Amsali 2, Cortez 2, Chiu 0, Lina 0
Bahrain (52) – Ali, B. 13, Awadh 13, Rashed, M. 11, Rashed, A. 7, Dindayneh 2, Hamoda 2, Aboukuora 2, Kadhem 2, Ali, A. 0, Alrowaila 0, Al Koohiji 0, Nawaf 0
Quarter scores: 20-11, 26-34, 48-45, 67-52