MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine basketball youth team made up for a lackluster group-stage run by finishing the FIBA Under-17 World Cup on a high note.
Batang Gilas wrecked New Zealand, 73-51, in their last game to finish 13th overall – the Philippines’ all-time best record in the tournament since finishing 15th place in 2014.
Feeding off the momentum from their win against Egypt, a spirited national team showed up in the classification match in Santa Fe, Argentina on Monday, July 9 (Manila time).
The 7-foot-1 Kai Sotto – who had a 28-point, 17-rebound outburst in Batang Gilas’ slim win over Egypt – powered the squad again with 22 points and 10 boards.
Sniper Terrence Fortea had 9 points and 4 assists for Batang Gilas, who established a 24-point lead, 52-28, by the 3rd quarter off a bruising drop step layup from reliable scorer Gerry Abadiano off the inbound.
Team captain Forthsky Padrigao was also on a defensive groove, tallying 4 points plus game-highs of 9 assists and 6 steals.
Mitchell Dance had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds to lead New Zealand, which finished 14th.
Much like their Egypt match, the young Nationals made their mark early in the first half, extending the lead by 11, 35-24, off a jumper by La Salle Green Hills (LSGH) skipper RC Calimag.
But this time, Batang Gilas sustained its dominant run through the second half.
Mclaude Guadana also stepped up in this match as a new starter, chipping in 6 points at the half on a perfect 3-of-3 shooting from inside.
Philippines (73) – Sotto 22, Fortea 9, Abadiano 8, Calimag 8, Chiu 8, Guadana 7, Padrigao 4, Cortez 4, Andrada 0, Lazaro 0.
New Zealand (51) – Dance 12, Broughton 10, Cowie 6, Williams-Dunn 6, Dixon 5, Vaigafa 5, Rissetto 4, McKinlay 3, Jenkins 0, Stodard 0, Payne 0
Quarter scores: 16-12, 41-26, 54-36, 73-51.