The Philippines earned a 13th place finish in the Fiba Under-17 World
Cup in Argentina following two late wins – 70-69 over Egypt and 73-51
over New Zealand.
Despite the 2-5 slate, the Philippines placed better than the 2014
squad that was finished 15th and was composed by Jamike Jarin. That
squad featured Matt and Mike Nieto, Paul Desiderio, Diego Dario, Jolo
Mendoza, Jollo Go, Renzo Navarro, Arnie Padilla, and Mikel Panlilio
After taking it on the chin against Croatia (97-75) and France
(95-54), the Philippines hung tough in a 74-71 defeat to Argentina.
Canada won in a 102-62 blowout but it was a shock loss to Mali, 95-59,
Then came the last two matches for wins that helped end the U17 World
Cup campaign on a high note.
The 34th ranked Philippines shocked 10th ranked Egypt, 70-69, to earn
its first win. The Batang Gilas squad nearly squandered a 20-point
lead before restoring order in the waning moments with Kai Sotto’s
three charities with 1.7 seconds left sealed the win for Mike Oliver’s
Egypt came within a point, 67-66 with under a minute to play in the match.
The Egyptians fouled Sotto in the next possessions, and the 7-foot-1
center hit three of four three throws to make it 70-66.
Egypt hit a desperation three-pointer for the game’s final score, 70-69.
Against New Zealand and a monster double-double by Kai Sotto, Batang
Gilas romped New Zealand, 73-51.
Sotto, who is the best under-16 center in Asia, finished the game with
22 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks to raise his tournament
averages to 16.4 points and 10.6 rebounds.
The youthful Filipinos lead 35-24 early in the first half. But unlike
in their game against Egypt where Batang Gilas stepped off the gas
pedal, this time, they worked on adding to a lead that went as high as
Forthsky Padrigao led the team with nine assists, six steals, and four
points. Terrence Fortea added 12 markers.
Mitchell Dance had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds for New Zealand.