Batang Gilas survive close call against Malaysia thanks to Caracut's late heroics
Jamike Jarin's Batang Gilas trailed by as much as 12 points against Malaysia. Dante Peralta

JOSHUA Andrei Caracut hit a huge three-pointer in the clutch as the Philippines escaped with a 72-69 win over Malaysia on Sunday night to seal the third spot in Group E of the Fiba-Asia Under-18 Championship in Doha, Qatar.

Caracut, a member of the San Beda Red Cubs squad in the NCAA, scored only five points but hit the biggest shot of the game as he broke a 69-69 deadlock with 24 seconds left to spare Batang Gilas blushes in a match against their regional rivals.

Radge Tongco had 22 points while Kobe Paras added 12 points as kept Batang Gilas in the game before Caracut’s heroics clinched the win that arranged a crossover quarterfinal pairing with Group F second seed Chinese Taipei which will be played on Tuesday.

The Taiwanese wound up with a 4-1 record in Group F after the second round.

A powerhouse in the Southeast Asian region, the Philippine Under-18 team surprisingly trailed for the most part of the game as Malaysia built leads as big as 12 points in the second quarter.

Malaysia was still leading, 61-57, before Paras, Tongco, and Dave Yu combined in a run capped by a dunk by Paras that tied the count at 69-all, setting the stage for Caracut's late-game heroics.

The win saved Batang Gilas from suffering the same fate as the Philippine senior team in 1989 when it lost to Malaysia in the gold medal match of the Southeast Asian Games held in Kuala Lumpur. The Philippines has not lost in any SEA Games match ever since.

The scores:

Philippines (72) – Tongco 22, Paras 12, Dyke 10, Desiderio 9, Yu 6, Caracut 5, Mosqueda 4, Santillan 2, Go 2, Bienes 0, Black 0, Escoto 0.

Malaysia (69) – Y. Wong 15, K. Wong 12, Wee 10, Foo 9, Ting 7, Heng 6, Chang 5, Soong 2, Liew 2, Tan 1, M. Wong 0.

Quarterscores: 12-19, 29-33, 51-51, 72-69.

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