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Kai to the rescue as Batang Gilas survives fright from Bahrain
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Kai to the rescue as Batang Gilas survives fright from Bahrain

August 10 ------ BATANG Gilas bucked a listless second-quarter showing to trump Bahrain, 67-52, and clinch a semifinal seat in the 2018 Fiba Under-18 Asian Championship on Thursday at Stadium 29 in Nonthaburi, Thailand. Kai Sotto scored 10 of his 21 points in the third quarter where the Filipino teens turned a 34-26 halftime deficit into a 41-36 advantage behind a sizzling 15-2 run capped by a booming three-pointer from Miguel Oczon. Sotto also hauled down 10 rebounds, issued three assists, and blocked three shots as the Philippines remained unbeaten through four games - and in the process booked a ticket to the 2019 Fiba Under-19 Basketball World Cup.

AJ Edu also did his part, dropping 16 points, 17 rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocks, while Oczon went 2-of-7 from threes to contibute 10 points. The Philippines now awaits the winner of the Australia-Japan game for its semifinal date on Friday. After a hot start, the Filipinos looked as if they sleep-walked through the second quarter, allowing the Bahrainis to go on a 21-0 windup to the second frame and grab an eight-point lead at the break. But Sotto made sure that no upset was in the offing, imposing his will down low as he made 9 of 13 shots and capped his game-long brilliance with a nice alley-oop connection with Dalph Panopio, 55-45 with 5:12 remaining.

Panopio was happy to orchestrate Batang Gilas’ attack, dishing out eight assists to go with his four points and four rebounds. The team’s snipers were also on-point, with Oczon, Edu, and Dave Ildefonso all hitting a pair from beyond the arc as the team shot 7-of-33 from downtown overal. Baqer Ali paced Bahrain with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Rashed Awadh also got 13 and three as they drop to the battle for fifth place.

The scores:
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.