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Batang Gilas secures berth to World Cup

by Jerome Lagunzad

Batang Gilas (FIBA.com photo)

Batang Gilas (FIBA.com photo)

RC Calimag drove hard for the game-clinching lay-up with 2.3 seconds left as Batang Gilas outlasted Japan in a cardiac finish, 72-70, yesterday to book a precious ticket to this year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup Under-17 Championships in Argentina.

Center Kai Sotto proved why he’s considered as the future star in the Asian level as he pumped in 28 points and 21 rebounds on top of three blocks and as many assists but it was Calimag who delivered the marginal bucket that enabled the Filipinos avert a monumental collapse in the face of the Japanese’ audacious fightback.

With the result hanging in the balance, the Filipinos nearly came up dry on their final offensive attack before Calimag put matters into his own hands and squeezed himself through a crowded lane for the game-clinching bucket that essentially ended the Japanese’ impressive run in the 2018 FIBA Asia Under-16 championships.

Touted American-Japanese Chikara Tanaka spearheaded the Japanese’ late charge as he singlehandedly scored their last 11 points, including a booming triple that tied the score at 70-apiece with 26.4 seconds to play.

Batang Gilas coach Mike Oliver sued for time and mapped out a play intended for Sotto, but was well-read by the Japanese defense.

Good thing for Oliver, Calimag had the presence of mind to attack the lane just before their shot clock expired.
Tanaka had a chance to force an extra five-minute period but his turnaround jumper from the baseline bounced off the rim, leading to the Filipinos’ wild celebration inside the Foshan Lingnan Mingzhu Gymnasium.

Batang Gilas 72 – Sotto 28, Calimag 15, Cortez 8, Fortea 6, Guadana 4, Padrigao 4, Andrada 4, Bautista 3, Lazaro 0, Go 0.

Japan 70 – Tanaka 17, Yuki 14, Mitani 12, Tominaga 12, Yamazaki 6, Nakamura 5, Yokochi 2, Kawamura 2, Iwasaki 0, Ehara 0.

Quarters: 15-17, 32-34, 57-46, 72-70.