BATANG Gilas stamped its class on Southeast Asian basketball with an 83-62 win over Malaysia on Thursday at the close of the Seaba Under-16 Championship at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Philippines received a worthy challenge from erstwhile unbeaten Malaysia, pulling away only in the second half to complete a four-game sweep of the round-robin tournament in front of a sprinkling of home fans.
The Batang Gilas cagers captured their fourth Seaba title in as many editions before moving on to the 2017 Fiba Asia Under-16 Championship after securing one of the three slots allotted the Southeast Asia zone.
“Ginamit nila (Malaysia) ‘yung advantage nila sa speed and outside shooting. Nung second half, doon tayo nag-remind sa players na i-lessen ‘yung three-point attempts nila at gamitin ‘yung advantage natin sa height,” said Batang Gilas coach Mike Oliver.
Kai Sotto, RC Calimag, and Terrence Fortea topscored for Batang Gilas but also got support from Raven Cortez and Bismark Lina in the victory.
Sotto had 15 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks, while Calimag and Fortea added 15 points each for the hosts, who came under siege when Malaysia pulled within 36-38 late in the first half.
The Philippines, however, finished the first half strong with a triple by Fortea and a buzzer-beating shot by Lina to take a 43-36 lead at the break.
Lina also tallied a double-double by finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds while Cortez finished with 13, hitting key baskets when Batang Gilas started the fourth quarter with a 12-0 run to pull away for good.
Teoh Yi Kang had 19 points to lead Malaysia.
Philippines (83) — Sotto 15, Calimag 15, Fortea 15, Cortez 13, Lina 13, Guadana 6, Padrigao 5, Pascual 1, Go 0, Lazaro 0.
Malaysia (62) — Teoh Y.K. 19, Yap R.S. 8, Wong T.M. 8, Tang 8, Tan E.W. 7, Jason Khor 5, Kavin C. 4, Tan C.W. 3, Lee J.H. 0, Chin J.L. 0.
Quarterscores: 22-15, 43-36, 65-52, 83-62.