MANILA, Philippines – Batang Gilas needed to dig down deep to turn back Malaysia, 83-62, and claim the gold medal in the 2017 SEABA Under-16 Championship on Thursday afternoon at the Araneta Coliseum.
Matched up against a Malaysian team that is known for its pressure defense and outside shooting, Batang Gilas faced its biggest deficit of the tournament after trailing 0-5 at the start of the game. They were eventually able to use their height advantage to score easy points inside the paint, but it wasn't until the fourth quarter that the young Filipinos could finally breathe easy.
"Ginamit nila 'yung advantage nila sa atin, 'yung speed nila at outside shooting," Batang Gilas coach Mike Oliver said after the game. "Noong second half, nag-remind tayo sa players na i-lessen 'yung three-point attempts nila."
"Kapag wala silang score sa three-points, definitely mahihirapan sila sa atin. Gamitin natin 'yung advantage natin sa height," he stressed.
Terrence Fortea's 13 first-half points helped the Philippines stay ahead, 43-36, but Malaysia proved to be a tough customer as they managed to stay within striking distance.
Batang Gilas began to gain some separation late in the third quarter, as Malaysia began to fire blanks from beyond the arc while Kai Sotto and Raven Cortez imposed their will inside the paint. Cortez's three-point play with 2:06 left in the period pushed the Philippines ahead, 63-50.
"Ang problem lang is nag-connect sila noong first half noong outside shooting nila," said Oliver. "Fortunately, noong third quarter, zero ang three-points nila."
Batang Gilas pulled away completely in the fourth period, as RC Calimag anchored a back-breaking 12-point run that turned a 13-point lead into a 77-52 advantage. Calimag scored four points in the flurry while assisting on a basket by Cortez, and Sotto capped the run with a couple of freebies.
Malaysia made a last ditch rally when Yi Kang Teoh and John Tan each drained a triple with three minutes left, but the deficit proved to be too large to overcome.
Calimag, Fortea, and Sotto each scored 15 points for Batang Gilas, with Sotto also grabbing 12 boards and blocking four shots. Starting point guard Rence Padrigao had a poor shooting game, making only 1 of 11 attempts for five points, but he made up for it with 11 boards and six assists. Bismarck Lina had a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Teoh had 19 points, three boards, and three assists for Malaysia, but Tan was limited to only eight points on 2-of-14 shooting.
It marked the fourth straight time that the Philippines has won the tournament. Batang Gilas has yet to lose a game in the SEABA Under-16 tilt since it began in 2011.
Both Batang Gilas and Malaysia are now qualified to the FIBA Asia Under-16 Championships later in the year.
Thailand wins bronze
In the first game, Thailand rode a hot start to defeat Singapore, 75-58, and salvage third place.
Natthanon Chayapiwat scored 10 points in the first quarter as Thailand roared to a stunning 31-1 start. He finished with 18 points and 18 boards, while Arnagorn Homthuanlom added 15 points.
Dorian Chin led Singapore with 12 points.
Though they will go home with the bronze, Thailand nevertheless missed out on qualifying for the FIBA Asia Under-16 tilt.
THAILAND 75 – Chayapiwat 18, Homthuanlom 15, Boateng 11, Preechahan 10, Wadman 8, Rattanawiwatpong 5, Srangthao 3, Kinnaret 2, Preechatiwong 2, Buakaw 1, Kamwised 0, Iabsap 0,
SINGAPORE 58 – Chin 12, Chuabio 11, Teo ZM 10, Teo TZ 10, Adam 5, Amado 4, Li 2, Tan 2, Lim 2, Tor 0, Lacsado 0, Soh 0
Quarter scores: 31-1, 40-18, 57-29, 75-58
PHILIPPINES 83 – Fortea 15, Calimag 15, Sotto 15, Lina 13, Cortez 13, Guadana 6, Padrigao 5, Pascual 1, Go 0, Lazaro 0
MALAYSIA 62 – Teoh YK 19, Tang 8, Wong 8, Yap 8, Tan E 7, Khor 5, S. Chandaran 4, Tan C 3, Lee 0, Chin 0
Quarter scores: 22-15, 43-36, 65-52, 83-62
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)