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FIBA 3×3 U18: PH bows out

Another bitter pill to swallow for Philippine sports.

Batang Gilas’ historic run in the 2017 FIBA 3×3 U-18 World Cup came to a crushing end yesterday in Chengdu, China, with the Filipino ballers falling prey to Belgium 14-18 in their knockout quarterfinal showdown.

Riding high on a pair of big victories last Friday that enabled them to finish second overall in Group A with a 3-1 mark, the seventh-seeded Pinoy cagers got off to a fine start but lost steam in the stretch in the face of the steady charge from the streaking yet surprising Belgians, ranked 12th overall in the 20-team tourney.

The Filipinos enjoyed a lead as high of three points in the early goings and forced a 12-all count courtesy of a Fil-Nigerian AJ Edu dunk, only to fall into a maze of errors and poor execution in the crunch.

The heartbreaking loss came on the heels of an equally deflating unanimous decision loss suffered by eight-time division world champion Manny Pacquiao against Australian challenger Jeff Horn in Brisbane, Australia, losing his grip on the World Boxing Organization welterweight crown in the process.

Still, the Filipino cagers, also represented by Juan Gomez De Liano, Encho Serrano and Rhayyan Amsali, should still hold their heads high after helping the country reach the medal round for the first time since the tourney was introduced in 2011. (Jerome Lagunzad)