Kai Sotto banged in a game-high 21 points, including eight points during a crucial third quarter breakaway, sending Batang Gilas to a historic 67-52 crushing of Bahrain yesterday in their quarterfinal encounter at the Bangkok Thai-Japan Youth Center in Thailand.
The 7-foot-1 Sotto’s big effort in the opening minutes of the third quarter pushed the Philippines into the lead, and they held on to their advantage till the end in the 2018 FIBA Under-18 Asian Championship in Nonthaburi.
The win not only earned Batang Gilas a spot in the semifinals, it also gave them a ticket to the FIBA U19 World Championship.
This is the first time a team from the SEABA subzone reached the final four since 1995 and the first time that the Philippines will have a chance at a medal since 1992.
The Filipino trailed by, 26-34, when Sotto turned up the heat during a 10-2, and the Philippines to a 38-36 lead when it was over in the final 6:16.
AJ Edu added 16 points, while Miguel Oczon hit 10 points, with his triple in the remaining 5:21 allowing Batang Gilas to increase their edge to five, 41-36.
Baqer Ali and Rashed Awadh led with 13 points for Bahrain, which reached the quarterfinals after it won over Chinese-Taipei, 76-65.
The Philippines will now wait for the winner between Australia and Japan to determine their semis foes.
The Bahrainis refused to back and leaned on a triple from Baqer Alo to stay close, 43-all.
But, a penetration from Oczon shattered the deadlock, and Gerry Abadiano’s charity put the Philippines back in front, 48-45.
Raven Cortez’s putback in the start of the fourth allowed Batang Gilas to touched a 7-0 burst, and they went on to enjoy a 55-45 spread off Sotto’s alley-oop shot in the final 5:20.
Batang Gilas went on to grab a 15-point spread, 62-47, off Sotto’s three-point play with 3:10 left.
The Philippines held a clear advantage in size with what is known in the international basketball community as the “Manila Skyline” towers, Kai Sotto and AJ Edu.
Statistically, the Filipinos are the third best team in blocks (6.3 per game) and fourth in rebounds (39.3 per game).
Box scores: BATANG GILAS 67—Sotto 21, Edu 16, Oczon 10, Ildefonso 6, Panopio 4, Abadiano 3, Ramirez 3, Cortez 2, Amsali 2, Torres 0, Lina 0, Chiu 0.
BAHRAIN 52—Ali R 13, Awadh 13, Rashed M 11, Rashed A 7, Hamoda 2, Aboukuora 2, Kadhem 2, Dindayneh 2, Nawaf 0, Alrowaila 0, Ali A 0, Koohiji 0.
Quarter scores: 20-11, 26-34, 48-45, 67-52.
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