The Philippine youth team did what Gilas Pilipinas 3.0 failed to do recently as it rallied from a five-point deficit with less than two minutes left to stun defending champion China, 78-72, and claim the No. 2 spot in Group F of the FIBA Asia U-16 Championship last night at the BritAma Arena in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Facing the prospect of absorbing their second straight loss when China took a 72-67 lead on a triple by Haotian Bai with 1:50 remaining, the Batang Gilas regrouped with Kris Pagsanjan, Jason Credo, Jonas Tibayan and SJ Belangel orchestrating the amazing comeback that came exactly a month after Gilas was beaten by China in the final of the FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha, China.
Pagsanjan, a 10th grader at Hope Christian High School, and Credo hit back-to-back threes on the next two possessions to put the Philippines on top 73-72 with 57 seconds left.
Gian Mamuyac, who topscored with 22 points, also shone defensively as he struck like a thief in the night to steal the ball from Bai to set up a Tibayan basket that made it 75-72 in Batang Gilas’ favor.
Yibo Wang then missed a game-tying trey for China on the ensuing play, setting the stage for Belangel to redeem himself from Monday’s 77-74 defeat to South Korea.
After bungling a three that would have sent the game in overtime against the Koreans, Belangel made sure he won’t miss this time as he buried a booming triple with 11 seconds left to complete the improbable mission.
The victory enabled Batang Gilas to tie China and South Korea on top of Group F with identical 4-1 records at the end of the second round.
But Batang Gilas, however, settled for No. 2 and will face Japan, which finished third in Group E, in the crossover quarterfinals tomorrow.
Batang Gilas is eyeing at a top three finish to qualify for next year’s FIBA U-17 World Championship in Spain.
PHILIPPINES 78 – Mamuyac 22, Belangel 11, Pagsanjan 10, Credo 10, Gomez De Liano 9, Tibayan 7, Gozum 4, Publico 3, Ildefonso 2, Flores 0, Escalona 0.
CHINA 72 – Bai 21, Wang R. 13, Zhao 9, Wu 9, Xu 2, Wang Y. 2, Huang 0, Wang J. 0, Chen 0, Han 0.
Quarters: 13-16; 39-33; 53-52; 78-72.