By Jerome Lagunzad
((Newell’s Old Boys Stadium)
12:45 a.m. – Canada vs Batang Gilas
(Knockout match, Round of 16)
Batang Gilas played its best performance yet yesterday but still came up short against host Argentina, 74-71, at the close of the preliminary round in the 2018 FIBA Under-17 Basketball World Cup at the Newell’s Old Boys Stadium in Rosario, Argentina.
The Nationals, ranked 31st in the world, went toe-to-toe with the eighth-seeded Argentinians in the tight finish but could not get over the hump as they turned the ball over several times and compounded it with sorry misses, including a pair of potential game-tying attempts from center Kai Sotto and Gerry Abadiano down the stretch.
The 5-foot-11 Abadiano, who finished with a team-high 17 points, the same output of fellow National University standout Terrence Fortea, initially set up the 7-foot-1 Sotto for a triple from the top of the key.
The prized Ateneo center missed his attempt and Abadiano tracked down the leather for an offensive rebound and tried to make up for it with his own try. However, the NU standout muffed it as time expired, allowing the Argentinians to escape.
Sotto bounced back from a poor showing against the Frenchmen by tallying 13 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks but frontcourt partner Carl Tamayo, who came off the bench this time, tallied just six points and nine rebounds in a foul-plagued stint.
Batang Gilas coach Mike Oliver felt the Nationals could have gotten the job done had they protected the ball better after making 20 errors.