Brave PH boys drop close loss to Belgium in Fiba 3x3 Under-18 World Cup quarterfinal
Encho Serrano carried the fight for the Philippine Under-18 team against Belgium. Fiba.com

THE Philippines suffered an 18-14 defeat at the hands of Belgium on Sunday in the quarterfinals of the 2017 Fiba 3x3 Under-18 World Cup in Chengdu, China.

The Belgians used a 6-1 run to wrest control of the match before finishing strong, staving off a late rally by the plucky Filipinos to advance unbeaten into the semifinal round.

Still, the quarterfinal finish stood as the best ever for the Philippines since the tournament's inception in 2012.

The Philippines was also the only Asian team to get to the Final Eight this year.

Belgium, which finished 12th in last year's event, trailed 6-8 in the first two minutes but started to hit its outside shots to turn the game around, 12-9.

Fil-Nigerian AJ Edu, however, scored consecutive baskets to tie the game at 12, only to see Vincent Peeters answer right back with a two-pointer to break the tie.

Belgium's defense also forced the Philippines to a few turnovers in the end game while continuing to convert crucial baskets to put the win away.

The Philippine team composed of Edu, Juan Gomez de Liano, Encho Serrano, and Rhayyan Amsali finished with a 3-1 record in Pool A to clinch a historic place in the quarterfinals.

Belgium will next face Slovenia, a 20-18 winner over Ukraine in overtime, in the semifinals.

Netherlands beat Romania, 17-13, while New Zealand won over Hungary, 16-15, to arrange their own semifinal pairing.

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