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    Sotto, Tamayo cross paths again with young Serbia stars

    Jun 27, 2021
    Filip Petrusev will again face Carl Tamayo and Kai Sotto.
    PHOTO: fiba.basketball

    CASTS may be different from the last time Gilas Pilipinas and Serbia crossed paths, but there's plenty of history for some of the players who will see action in the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade.

    Just ask youngsters Kai Sotto, Carl Tamayo, and Geo Chiu, who still vividly remember two players currently part of the Serbians' 16-man pool.

    Filip Petrusev and Dalibor Ilic were two of the main players for Serbia when it handed the Philippines an 87-60 defeat in the Round of 16 of the 2019 Fiba Under-19 World Cup in Heraklion, Greece.

    Petrusev picked his spots and did his damage with 17 points, eight rebounds, three steals, and one block, while Ilic dropped 13 points, 10 boards, six dimes, and one rejection in the 17-point win.

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      More importantly, the duo gave headaches to the Filipino frontline, which lost AJ Edu in the first game of the global youth hoops conclave due to a knee injury.

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      Eyes on Sotto

      Sotto only mustered 13 points, eight rebounds, and three assists in that Gilas Pilipinas Youth loss.

      Tamayo got seven points and five boards, and Chiu scored five.

      Serbia finished in seventh place in the youth tournament after losing to Lithuania in the quarterfinals, but the two proved that they are here to stay.

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      The 6-foot-7 Petrusev posted 19.3 points on 66-percent shooting, alongside 10.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.0 blocks, and 1.6 steals in 25.7 minutes in that campaign, while the 6-foot-9 Ilic averaged 10.9 points on 49-percent clip, on top of 11.0 boards and 3.3 assists in 26.3 minutes of play.

      Two years later, they are now part of the seniors team.

      The 21-year-old Petrusev was recently named as the Adriatic League MVP for his stellar play for Mega Soccerbet and is expected to be a first-round selection in the 2021 NBA Rookie Draft.

      Ilic, also 21, was a teammate at Mega Soccerbet, which finished in sixth place with its 14-12 record, narrowly missing the playoffs.

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      And on Thursday, the two will face off against Sotto, Tamayo, and Chiu again, all for the bigger goal of propelling their respective nations to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics through the Belgrade OQT.

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        Filip Petrusev will again face Carl Tamayo and Kai Sotto.
        PHOTO: fiba.basketball
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