The Philippine Under-18 squad shrugged off a disastrous second quarter to overtake the upset-minded Bahrain team to advance to the semifinals of the FIBA U18 Asian Championships in Thailand.
Kai Sotto had his best scoring performance of the tournament, notching a game high 21 points (17 in the second half) to go along with 10 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
The towering 16-year-old capped off his terrific performance with vicious two handed slams usually coming from the dazzling passes of Dalph Panopio.
His ‘Twin Tower’ mate AJ Edu was all over the stat-sheet as well, tallying 16 markers, 17 boards, three dimes, two steals, and swatted two shots.
With Batang Gilas trailing at the half 26-34, it appeared that Bahrain would be on the cusp of another upset victory, just a day after they surprised Chinese Taipei.
But with a seat at the FIBA U-19 World Cup up for grabs, the Josh Reyes-mentored Gilas put the clamps on defense in the second half and stifled Bahrain’s attacks.
After a cold shooting start, Miguel Oczon rediscovered his touch in the second half and knocked down two 3-pointers en route to a solid 10 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists outing.
Rashad Awadh and Bager Ali had 13 markers apiece to pace Bahrain.
NUMBERS AND GAME NOTES
—Rebounding has become one, if not the, greatest strength of Batang Gilas. They capitalized on their height advantage once more, corralling 55 total rebounds as opposed to Bahrain’s 43. They collected 33 defensive boards and 19 offensive rebounds (7 coming from Edu alone) which resulted into 24 second chance points.
—After putting up 43 points in the first half, Bahrain couldn’t buy a basket in the final two cantos, thanks in large part to the Filipinos’ valiant effort on the defensive end. Gilas outscored their counterparts 22-11 and 19-7 in the last 20 minutes of the game.
—Neither team took the fast paced approach, as they both only scored two fast break points. Gilas, however, had the edge inside, notching 32-26 margin in points in the paint.
—The Philippines also had the more fluid ball movement down the stretch, recording 19 total assists compared to Bahrain’s 7. Fil-Italian revelation Panopio once again dictated the offense with a game-high 8 dimes to go along with his 4 markers and 4 rebounds.
—The Filipinos had a rough showing from beyond the arc, making only 7 out of their 33 three-pointers for a measly 21 percent clip. They also made half of their attempts from the charity stripe, going 8 out of 16.
—Batang Gilas awaits the winner of Australia versus Japan match and will contend for a spot in the podium tomorrow, August 10.
(Photo courtesy of FIBA)