Calimag clutch lifts Batang Gilas past Japan in FIBA U16 Asia Q’finals
MANILA, Philippines – Batang Gilas kept on rolling at the FIBA U16 Asia Tournament, this time winning a close one over an undefeated Japan team, 72-70, in their quarterfinals match at the Foshan Lingnan Mingzhu Gymnasium on Friday, April 6.
After two straight forgettable outings, Kai Sotto finally had a monstrous breakout, tallying a double-double of 28 points and 21 rebounds with 2 blocks. Chris Calimag was also huge for the Filipino squad with 15 points and 3/6 (50%) from three.
Batang Gilas now moves on to the semifinal round, where they will await the winner of today's 6PM match between China and Lebanon. More importantly, however, Gilas is now guaranteed a spot in the FIBA U17 World Cup.
Gilas did a great job of limiting Japan’s feared outside shooters in the first half while they used Sotto’s massive height advantage for easy layups and boards. As a result, Japan only led by two, 34-32, at halftime.
Then Gilas stunned the Japanese with a huge 13-2 run in the third quarter, including two triples from Calimag. There, they managed a game-high 13-point lead, 55-42, after Jorick Bautista sank his two free-throws. At the end of the period, they still led Japan, 57-46.
However, the Japanese induced some panic into the Filipino side, as they opened the fourth with a 10-2 run to inch within 3, 59-56. But the big man tandem of Sotto and Raven Cortez held their ground and made key stops to again keep Japan out of reach, 65-59. And still Japan did not give up, as they responded with an 11-5 run which was punctuated by a pull-up triple by Chikara Tanaka to even the game up at 70.
Off the timeout, however, with less than 24 seconds remaining, Calimag dribbled the clock out and drove hard for the contested layup with 6 ticks remaining. Tanaka’s jumper after their own timeout clanked off as the Gilas kids ran back with their bench to celebrate the close win. – Rappler.com