Mike Oliver lauds Batang Gilas for stellar defense in rout of Thailand

Batang Gilas head coach Mike Oliver was satisfied with how the U18 Filipinos executed in their win over Thailand, 101-45, on day one of the 2016 SEABA U18 Championship in Medan, Indonesia.

Oliver particularly liked his team’s defense, which forced the Thais to commit 24 turnovers.

“I’m happy with how the players executed the game plan, especially on defense, which is our priority,” he said after the game. “Our plan was to play full-court man-to-man defense from start to finish.”

Batang Gilas did a swell job turning defense into offense, scoring 27 points off Thailand’s numerous errors.

The Filipinos also ruled the battle of the boards, 52-31, outscored their foes in the box, 48-20, and outshot them from beyond the arc. Batang Gilas hit a total of 13 triples to just 3 for the Thais. Former UAAP Juniors’ Finals MVP Jolo Mendoza hit 4 treys, while Xavier School’s Rendell Lee and San Beda’s Evan Nelle drained 3 and 2 respectively from long distance.

Before shipping out to Medan, Oliver had concerns about how the players would adjust to the playing environment, but he was glad to note that conditions are similar to what the boys are used to at home.

“Playing in Medan is like playing in the Philippines,” he describes. “Mainit din dito kaya yung players ‘di na masyado kailangang mag-adjust.”

Mendoza eventually led all scorers with 16 points, while Lee added a dozen markers. Former SHS-Ateneo de Cebu standout and current National University transferee Josh Sinclair also impressed with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Batang Gilas takes on Laos today at 5:00pm, Malaysia tomorrow at 7:00pm, Singapore on Tuesday at 7:00pm, and the hosts on Wednesday at 9:00pm before the final round to be played on Thursday, April 28.

The top three finishers in this tournament will advance to the 2016 FIBA Asia U18 Championship in Iran in July, and the top three of that competition will qualify for the 2017 FIBA U19 World Championship. — By Enzo Flojo