Bittersweet feeling after Fiba World Cup-bound Batang Gilas fails to land a medal
Rence Padrigao runs the show for Batang Gilas in the game against New Zealand. Fiba photo

BATANG Gilas returned to the country bearing mixed emotions following its campaign in the FIBA U-16 Asian Championship that came to a close on Sunday in Foshan, China.

While the Filipino youth team did earn a ticket to the FIBA U-17 Basketball World Cup in Argentina, it lamented failing to salvage a medal at the end of the week-long meet topped by Australia.

The team lost to New Zealand, 76-60, in the battle for the bronze on final day.

“Half-half,” replied Batang Gilas team manager Andrew Teh in a communique from China when asked about the mood of the team a day after the New Zealand game.

“Happy kasi nakapag- worlds. But sad kasi hindi naka medalya.”

The last time Batang Gilas marched to the world championship four years ago, it won the silver medal behind China in the 2013 Asian edition of the U-16 tournament held in Iran. The team included Paul Desiderio, Jolo Mendoza, Richard Escoto, and brothers Joseph and Michael Nieto. Jamike Jarin was coach.

Teh said Batang Gilas could have made it back to the finals but failed to get the endgame breaks against the Chinese in their semifinal match. The Filipinos lost, 60-54, despite getting monster numbers from young center Kai Sotto, who had 26 points, 21 rebounds, and six block shots.

“Winnable yung sa China. May mga lapses lang sa huli,” said the PH youth team manager. “But ganun lang talaga ang basketball.”

The team, at least, will have ample time to prepare for the World Cup, set June 30 to July 8, not unlike the Asian Championship where it only had less than a month to play together as a complete unit.

“That’s one thing for sure, mas longer ang preparation natin,” said Teh.

Batang Gilas returned to the country from China early Monday night.

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