Our teenage ballers have once again been named kings of SEABA.
On Thursday, the young Philippine squad claimed the U-16 Championship as they won, 83-62, over Malaysia. Batang Gilas has now won the tournament for the fourth straight time since the men’s youth tournament started back in 2011.
The trio of RC Calimag, Terrence Fortea, and Kai Sotto put up 15 points apiece. Forthsky Padrigao meanwhile finished with just five points but had 11 rebounds and two steals.
Batang Gilas bucked a slow start in the first half as the Malaysian team was determined to pull off the upset. The visiting team even scored the first five points before Gilas’ Mclaude Guadana got the Philippines on the scoreboard.
By the end of the first quarter, the game was still up for grabs as Batang Gilas only held a 22-15 advantage. The back-and-forth affair between the two proud nations kept going in the second quarter. Whenever the young Filipino squad threatened to pull away, the fiery Malaysian team kept within striking distance.
“Ginamit nila yung advantage nila sa atin, yung speed nila at outside shooting,” Batang Gilas head coach Mike Oliver observed of their opponent.
The story was different in the second half however as Batang Gilas kicked into high gear. They broke the game wide open when they went on a 20-6 scoring spree in the third quarter. From that point on, the Philippines never looked back as they claimed gold.
“Nung second half, ang [reminder] tayo sa players na lessen natin yung three-point attempt nila, pag wala silang score sa three points, definitely mahihirapan sila sa atin,” the coach explained. “Gamitin natin yung advantage natin sa height.”
Malaysia was led by 19 points from Teoh Yi Kang. The point guard kept his team afloat thanks to his shot-making ability and passing. However, Malaysia sorely missed the contribution from John Tang who had been superb in their first three games. The forward only managed eight points on a dismal 2-for-14 shoting.
“Syempre in-expect natin yun kasi 3-0 rin sila. Alam naman natin na maglalaro sila ng best game nila,” Oliver said about Malaysia. “Sympre may chance sila mag-champion eh.”
By winning the SEABA U-16 tournament, Batang Gilas will now look ahead to represent the country in the FIBA ASIA U-16 Championships later this year. They will be joined by Malaysia as well, as the top two teams in the region.
PHILIPPINES 83 – Fortea 15, Calimag 15, Sotto 15, Lina 13, Cortez 13, Guadana 6, Padrigao 5, Pascual 1, Go 0, Lazaro 0
MALAYSIA 62 – Teoh YK 19, Tang 8, Wong 8, Yap 8, Tan E 7, Khor 5, S. Chandaran 4, Tan C 3, Lee 0, Chin 0
QUARTER SCORES: 22-15, 43-36, 65-52, 83-62
– Coach Mike Oliver mentioned that he is proud of what the team accomplished in the limited time the team was able to prepare. Even though they were already eyeing a lot of amazing players, it took time for players like Kai Sotto and Mclaude Guadana to consistently attend practice due to school work.
– Both teams tried to play small ball to push the pace. The Malaysians spread the floor with their shooters, forcing Batang Gilas to match up with lengthy defenders. Still, Gilas dominated the rebounding department, 57-33.
– For now, Batang Gilas plans to rest up and further prepare for the upcoming FIBA Asia U-16 Championships.