Sotto, Gilas Youth fall to Greece in FIBA U19 World Cup opener

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas Youth got off on the wrong foot in the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup after absorbing a 69-85 loss to host country Greece at the Heraklion Arena on Saturday, June 29 (Sunday, June 30, Philippine time).

Kai Sotto submitted 13 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 assists, but the Philippines – back in the U19 World Cup for the first time since 1979 – failed to maintain its hot start as it played without AJ Edu for the majority of the match. 

The Filipino-Nigerian Edu was part of the starting unit but saw action for only two minutes after hurting his knee during a drive attempt. He was helped off the court and never returned.

Although without one of their key cogs, the Filipinos managed to build a 22-12 advantage – their biggest of the game – off timely three-pointers from Xyrus Torres and Dave Ildefonso. 

But the Greeks easily chiseled away at their deficit and entered halftime with a 42-41 lead thanks to a Chrysostomos Sandramanis triple at the buzzer. 

Greece then took over from there as it built a 63-57 cushion heading into the final frame, where it outscored the Philippines 22-12 to successfully protect its home turf. 

Gerry Abadiano backstopped Sotto with 13 points and 7 rebounds, Ildefonso chalked up 12 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists, while Carl Tamayo added 9 points and 5 rebounds for the Filipinos. 

Nikolaos Arsenopoulos paced the Greeks with 18 points, Aristotelis Sotiriou added 16 points and 9 rebounds, while Zois Karampelas and Emmanouil Chatzidakis chipped in 10 points apiece in the win. 

The Philippines looks to bounce back when it meets Argentina – which pulled off an 86-84 escape against Russia earlier – on Sunday, June 30 (Monday, July 1, Philippine time). –

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.