Kai Sotto 20-20 game not enough as Batang Gilas bows to China in Fiba Asia U16 semis
Kai Sotto had a monster game but fell short in lifting Batang Gilas over China. Photo from Fiba

CHINA held off a late rally from the Philippines to come out on top, 60-54,  on Saturday night in the semifinals of the Fiba Under-16 Asian Championship in Foshan, China.

The hosts ended Batang Gilas’ bid for the title as the national youth squad is relegated to a battle-for-third match against New Zealand on Sunday.

Sun Haoqin frustrated Batang Gilas, finishing with 22 points and 11 rebounds for China on its way to the title match against Australia on Sunday.

Batang Gilas center Kai Sotto had 26 points, 21 rebounds, and six blocks against China but it was not enough. Still, the Philippine squad already secured a spot in the Fiba Under-17 Basketball World Cup after reaching the semifinals on Friday.

Sun keyed a 16-6 run to close the third period and give China a 48-36 lead. The closest Batang Gilas got was 57-53 on a split from the stripe by Kai Sotto but Sun converted a three-point play through a driving lay-up that put China ahead by seven with less than a minute to play in the fourth.

Terrence Fortea had 18 points and nine rebounds for Batang Gilas, who missed the services of RC Calimag.

Calimag was the hero of Batang Gilas’ quarterfinal match against Japan when he hit the game-winning shot to help his team advance into the semifinals.

Only five players from Batang Gilas scored for China.

The Philippines will now take on New Zealand, which lost to Oceania neighbor Australia, 86-51.

The scores:

China 60 - Sun 22, Saimaiti 10, Aizimaiti 8, Lu 8, Chen 4, Li 3, Qu 3, Yang 2, Jiao 0.

Philippines 54 - Sotto 26, Fortea 18, Guadana 4, Cortez 4, Andrada 2, Chiu 0, Padrigao 0, Balaga 0, Bautista 0.

Quarterscores: 16-15; 32-29; 48-36; 60-54.

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