Batang Gilas bows to China, but still headed to World Cup

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Apr 07, 2018 07:52 PM
Batang Gilas bows to China, but still headed to World Cup
Kai Sotto made a good account of himself up against the tallest team in the tournament, but it wasn't enough to tow Alab Pilipinas past China. (Photo courtesy of FIBA)

Batang Gilas’ run in the 2018 FIBA Asia Under-16 Championship has come to a close.

Kai Sotto carried his usual load at both ends and Terrence Fortea waxed hot in the final frame, but the undermanned Filipinos just didn’t have enough gas to run with host team China, falling 60-54 on Saturday at the Foshan Lingnan Mingzhu Gym.

Sotto made a good account of himself well up against the tallest team in the tournament with an average height of 6-foot-5 and pounded in 26 points, 21 rebounds, and six blocks, but was in need of help in the first three quarters.

Trailing by 12 entering the final frame, Fortea finally answered the call and caught fire, shooting the Philippines to within 52-55 inside the last five minutes.

Unfortunately, they would not be able to come closer as China’s activity on the glass took away too much time.

Just down by four with 66 ticks to go, Batang Gilas got a defensive stop only to see Saimati Xierzhati get an offensive rebound and then pass the ball to Sun Haoqin who then made good on a basket and a bonus for a comfortable 60-53 margin the Chinese would protect until the final buzzer.

Fortea wound up with 18 points and nine rebounds.

Sotto and Fortea were the only players in double-digits as the Filipinos were sorely missing the scoring of RC Calimag who was out with a knee injury.

Even with the close loss, however, the Philippines is still headed to the 2018 FIBA Under-17 Basketball World Cup in June.

That will be the first time they will be playing in the World Cup since 2014. There, that team led by Nieto twins Matt and Mike was able to win one game.

They also have one more game to play in the tournament, a battle for third with New Zealand on Sunday afternoon.

Haoqin top-scored for China with 22 points. They will duke it out with Australia in the tournament Finals also on Sunday.

BOX SCORES

CHINA 60 — Sun 22, Saimati 10, Aizimaiti 8, Lu 8, Chen 4, Li 3, Qu 3, Yang 2, Jiao 0.

PHILIPPINES 54 — Sotto 26, Fortea 18, Cortez 4, Guadaña 4, Andrada 2, Balaga 0, Bautista 0, Chiu 0, Lazaro 0.

QUARTER SCORES: 16-15, 32-29, 48-36, 60-54.

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