Overcoming a lackadaisical second quarter, Batang Gilas downed Bahrain, 67-52, to clinch a semifinal seat in the 2018 Fiba Under-18 Asian Championship yesterday at Stadium 29 in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
A fiery 15-2 run early in the third period sparked by Kai Sotto and capped by Miguel Oczon sent the Filipino teens on top to stay, 41-36, after falling behind at the end of the first half.
Sotto scored 10 of his 21 points in the third quarter while Oczon made his presence felt with a booming a three-pointer, capping that decisive scoring burst.
Sotto also hauled down 10 rebounds, issued three assists, and blocked three shots as the Philippines remained unbeaten through four games - and in the process booked a ticket to the 2019 Fiba Under-19 Basketball World Cup.
AJ Edu also did his part, dropping 16 points, 17 rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocks, while Oczon went 2-of-7 from threes to contibute 10 points.
The Philippines now awaits the winner of the Australia-Japan game for its semifinal date on Friday.
After a hot start, the Filipinos looked as if they sleep-walked through the second quarter, allowing the Bahrainis to go on a 21-0 windup to the second frame and grab an eight-point lead at the break.
But Sotto made sure that no upset was in the offing, imposing his will down low as he made 9 of 13 shots and capped his game-long brilliance with a nice alley-oop connection with Dalph Panopio, 55-45 with 5:12 remaining.
Philippines (67) – Sotto 21, Edu 16, Oczon 10, Ildefonso 6, Panopio 4, Abadiano 3, Ramirez 3, Amsali 2, Cortez 2, Chiu 0, Lina 0, Torres 0.
Bahrain (52) – B. Ali 13, Awadh 13, M. Rashed 11, A. Rashed 7, Aboukuora 2, Dindayneh 2, Hamoda 2, Kadhem 2, A. Ali 0, Alrowaila 0, Al Koohiji 0, Nawaf 0.
Quarterscores: 20-11, 26-34, 48-45, 67-52.