SLOWLY but surely, an undersized but hard-fighting Gilas Pilipinas youth team is carving making quite an impression in the 2013 Fiba Asia under-16 championships in Tehran, Iran.
Riding on the shoulders of Nieto twins Michael and Joseph who combined for 34 points and 13 rebounds, the Gilas youngsters posted their most impressive win yet by humiliating Japan, 94-76, in second-round action on Sunday.
“We just executed our plans. And I am so happy the boys reacted well,” said coach Jamike Jarin, shortly after the Filipinos’ third win in four games in the 14-national tournament.
“We really prepared a special game plan for them (Japan) and the boys followed it to the letter,” he added. “Our execution was perfect, they (Japanese) never had an answer!”
Until the loss to the Filipinos, the Japanese were blowing out their rivals, winning by an average margin of 21.3 points.
“Sinorpresa lang namin sila. Naglabas kami ng mga bagong kumbinasyon sa depensa,” said assistant coach and chief scout Jigs Mendoza.
The Gilas youth’s tactics paid off as they limited Japan to just 40 percent shooting from the field (25-of-62) while holding down its gunners to a 3-of-20 clip from three-point range.
The Philippines, on the other hand, hit 51% of its shots (35/69) while dominating the boards, 52-38.
“We just used our quickness against their bigs to attack the basket on offense,” added Mendoza, whose son Jolo had 16 points and 6 rebounds for the Gilas side.
The Philippines is now second in Group F going into a game against winless India at 11:30 p.m. (Manila time) on Monday.
The Philippines must place highly in its group to avoid an early showdown with Group E leaders Korea and China in the knockout rounds as it bids to duplicate if not surpass a fourth-place finish by a team coached by Olsen Racela in the last edition of the tournament.