Twin towers Sotto, Cortez rise in Batang Gilas’ narrow win over Malaysia

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Apr 02, 2018 03:15 PM
Sotto, Cortez rise in Batang Gilas’ narrow win over Malaysia
Batang Gilas leaned on twin towers Kai Sotto and Raven Cortez to put away pesky Malaysia. (Photo courtesy of FIBA)

The shots were not falling for Batang Gilas in their first game in the FIBA Asia Under-16 Championship.

Still, Kai Sotto and company kept working and, better late than never, got into their groove.

The 7-foot-1, 15-year-old was the stabilizing force for the Filipinos, posting a 12-point, 16-rebound double-double in their 62-57 conquest of very game Malaysia on Monday at the Foshan Lingnan Mingzhu Gym in China.

The shots weren’t falling for the Philippines in the first half and they only made good on 29 percent of their shots from the field.

The start of the second half wasn’t any better, but Sotto continued pounding on the door.

Down by one early in the third, Batang Gilas finally broke through with an 11-2 run that put up a 47-39 lead in the quarter.

Four points from that run came courtesy of the UAAP Juniors Finals MVP whose motor never stopped running and found his way inside for a couple of short stabs.

However, Malaysians still kept coming and John Tang’s three pulled them to within 54-59 inside the last three minutes, but makes from Raven Cortez and Sotto would keep them at bay.

Cortez wound up with 12 points and 12 rebounds and paired up with Sotto for a total of five blocks.

Terrence Fortea also added 15 points and Forthsky Padrigao contributed three markers, seven assists, five rebounds, and two steals.

The Filipinos now get one day to prepare for powerhouse Australia on Wednesday.

That game will conclude the group stages. The top two teams from each group will then advance to the quarterfinals.

For Malaysia, John Tang led the effort with 17 points, including a pair of threes that kept the game interesting up to the final moments. The close loss to heavily-favored Philippines is a confidence booster for them as they head into a matchup with Australia on Tuesday.

BOX SCORES

PHILIPPINES 62 — Fortea 15, Cortez 12, Sotto 12, Calimag 8, Go 4, Andrada 3, Guadaña 3, Padrigao 3, Lazaro 2, Balaga 0, Bautista 0, Chiu 0.

MALAYSIA 57 — Tang 17, Lee JH 9, Teoh YK 8, Wong 8, Foo 4, Tan EW 4, Yap 3, Khor 2, Tan CW 2, Lee W 0, Teoh WH 0.

QUARTER SCORES: 11-13, 30-27, 49-40, 62-57.

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