(UPDATED) The Philippines is assured of a spot in the 2019 FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup.
This, after Batang Gilas overcame a gritty Bahrain squad, 67-52, in the quarterfinals of the 2018 FIBA Under-18 Championship in Nonthaburi, Thailand on Thursday afternoon.
It was a hard-earned victory for the Pinoy teenagers, who saw a double-digit lead evaporate in the second quarter as they gave up 21 unanswered points to Bahrain. From up 26-13, Batang Gilas found itself trailing, 34-26, at the half.
Kai Sotto, however, would not be denied. He ended the Philippines' drought with two free throws to open the third period, sparking a 12-2 run that pushed them ahead, 38-36, with 6:16 left. It was Sotto who scored the go-ahead basket as well, as he completed an alley-oop off a dime from Dalph Panopio.
Bahrain last threatened with 2:14 left, when two free throws by Muzamil Hamoda tied the game at 45. But Miguel Oczon swished a jumper in the next possession for Batang Gilas, and the Filipinos would not relinquish the lead.
The floodgates opened for Batang Gilas in the fourth quarter, with Sotto and AJ Edu having their way inside the paint while Oczon continued to fire from the perimeter.
Sotto finished with 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting, a bulk of which came in the second half. He also grabbed 10 rebounds and had three blocks. Edu finished with 16 points, 17 boards, three assists, two steals and two blocks in a tremendous all-around effort.
Oczon had 10 points, while Panopio registered eight assists for the Philippines, which had a 55-43 edge in rebounding against Bahrain.
The Philippines will now wait for the winner of the other quarterfinal match-up between Australia and Japan to determine who they play in the semifinals.
All of the Final 4 teams are assured of spots in next year's Under-19 World Cup.
PHILIPPINES 67 – Sotto 21, Edu 16, Oczon 10, Ildefonso 6, Panopio 4, Abadiano 3, Ramirez 3, Amsali 2, Cortez 2, Chiu 0, Lina 0, Torres 0.
BAHRAIN 52 – B. Ali 13, Awadh 13, M. Rashed 11, A. Rashed 7, Aboukuora 2, Dindayneh 2, Hamoda 2, Kadhem 2, A. Ali 0, Alrowaila 0, Al Koohiji 0, Nawaf 0.
Quarter scores: 20-11, 26-34, 48-45, 67-52.
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