|The Philippines is back in the FIBA U19 World Cup thanks to an impressive game from Kai Sotto. FIBA|
By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA -- Batang Gilas booked a slot in the FIBA U18 Asian Championship semifinals with a 67-52 victory over Bahrain in the first quarterfinal game of the tournament at the Stadium 29 in Nonthaburi, Thailand on Thursday.
Batang Gilas recovered from a sluggish second quarter and turned the tides in the second half to not just make the Final 4 but also book a spot in next year's FIBA U19 World Cup.
Batang Gilas was on course to blast Bahrain early on, opening a 20-11 lead after the first quarter.
However, Bahrain nearly shut down Batang Gilas in the second, going on a 23-6 run to go up, 34-26, at the half.
Thanks to Kai Sotto, Batang Gilas recovered in the third period, outscoring Bahrain, 22-11, to retake the lead, 48-45.
Eventually, Batang Gilas made Bahrain scoreless for the first five minutes of the fourth quarter and limited its opponent to just seven points the entire period to seal the win.
Sotto finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, and three blocks for Batang Gilas, which will make a return to the FIBA U19 World Cup after almost four decades.
AJ Edu added 16 points, 17 rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and two steals.
Rashed Awadh and Baqer Ali each made 13 points for Bahrain, which was relegated to the playoffs for fifth to eighth places.
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.
Quarters: 20-11, 26-34, 48-45, 67-52.
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