Batang Gilas enters Fiba Asia U18 q’finals

Batang Gilas are advancing to the quarterfinals of the Fiba Asia
Under-18 Championships in Nonthaburi, Thailand, after dusting off
China, 73-63.

Behind the solid play of its starting unit of Kai Sotto, AJ Edu, Dave
Ildefonso, Dalph Panopio, and Xyrus Torries, the Philippines seized
the lead early in the game and never let go of it.

Miguel Oczon came off the bench and hit four straight free throws to
break a 12-all deadlock. In between he also blocked a Chinese attempt.
Oczon’s contributions spurred the Philippines to take the first
period, 18-15, and they never looked back.

Displaying solid defense, the youthful Filipinos forced China into a
horrid 24% shooting from the field (19-79). Batang Gilas also ruled
the defensive boards, 42-31, and blocks, 10-1.

After posting several double digits leads, China cut the lead down to
six, after Hoawan Guo hit a jump shot, 65-59, with 2:03 left to play.
However, Panopio scored on a short stab to ease the pressure and bring
the lead up to eight and make it a three-possession ball game.

Sotto and Edu sandwiched another Panopio jumper with a block each to
take the starch out of the Chinese as the Philippines ended the group
stage with a 3-0 record and to send China crashing out the tourney.

It was also sweet revenge for the 95-66 beating the Chinese inflicted
upon the Philippine team in the 2016 edition. Then in the
classification matches, China blew out the Pinoys, 85-55. China
finished fifth while the Philippines ended up in seventh place in the
final rankings.

And now, the Philippines has a chance to not only better its finish
but go deep on the competition.

Dave Ildefonso topped the Philippines once more in scoring with 18
points. AJ Edu added 13 while Panopio chipped in 12. Miguel Oczon and
Kai Sotto each scored 11.