THE Batang Gilas Pilipinas cagers have vowed to salvage a measure of pride and clinch fifth place in the 2015 Fiba-Asia Under-16 Championship when they play Lebanon on Saturday at the Britama Arena in Jakarta.
Head coach Mike Oliver said the Under-16 squad wants to finish on a high in a tournament marked by a historic win over China in the eliminations and the disappointment of a shock exit at the quarterfinal stage at the hands of Japan.
“We all want to end the tournament on a high note and a get the fifth spot,” said Oliver, hours after an 81-46 win over Thailand set Batang Gilas up for a battle for fifth place with Lebanon, which beat Kuwait, 79-56.
Oliver was left to rue a poor start to the knockout game against a hot-shooting Japan side which left Batang Gilas with a mountain to climb after the first quarter, 9-23.
Leading the charge for Japan in the quarterfinal match was Yudai Nishida, who scored 20 points on 5-of-8 shooting from three-point range in a big 73-66 victory over the Philippines.
“Bad start and most of our shots were not falling even (from) point blank (range),” Oliver said. “Japan played almost a perfect game. I don’t remember them missing a lot of shots.”
But Oliver credited his wards for their gallant stand in the fourth quarter when they outscored Japan, 21-10, in a late push.
“All are opponents are bigger and faster than us. It’s only China that is stronger, taller, and a bit slower compared to most of the teams because their offense starts in the post,” said Oliver.
“As a team, the Batang Gilas knows it has to learn from it,” added team manager Andrew Teh.
Though already out of contention for one of three slots for the Fiba Under-17 Championship next year, Oliver said the Batang Gilas cagers will play with a lot of pride in the final match against Lebanon.
“We just have to still play our best against Lebanon and clinch fifth place,” added Teh.