GILAS youth team went down fighting against defending champion China, 85-78, and settled for a runner-up finish in the Fiba-Asia U16 Championship late Friday night in Tehran, Iran.
The Filipinos put up a gallant stand despite trailing the Chinese for the most part of the championship match at the Azadi Sports Complex.
But in the end, the Great Wall was just too much to overcome for this band of talented and overachieving team under coach Mike Jarin.
Jose Mendoza topscored with 20 points in a losing cause for the Philippines, which nonetheless achieved its highest finish of a silver medal in this biennial tournament that began in 2009.
The Filipinos likewise earned a berth to the Fiba-World U17 Championship slated in Dubai next week along with the three-time champion Chinese and Japan, winner of the bronze medal over Chinese-Taipei, 85-72.
“We lose this game with our hands heads held high. Our boys did our country proud. We’re going to the U17 World Cup next year,” said a proud Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes in his twitter account@coachot shortly after the title match.
Michael Nieto and Andres Desiderio added 13 and 11 points for the young Gilas team, respectively, as the Filipinos held their own despite the Chinese’s heft and height advantage.
The Philippines were just within 42-35 at the half and managed to trim the deficit to just 59-55 entering the final period.
Yanhao Zhao fired 16 of his game-high 25 points in the first half, while Hao Fu was a tower for China with 22 points and 18 rebounds. Young center Jinqiu Hu added 12 and 15 rebounds.
China (85) -- Zhao 25, Fu 22, Xu 14, Hu 12, Liu 7, Luo 4, Yuan 1, Zhang 0.
Philippines (78) – Mendoza 20, M. Nieto 13, Desiderio 11, Escoto 7, Dela Cruz 6, Padilla 6, J. Nieto 4, Go 4, Panlilio 3, Navarro 2, Abadeza 2, Dario 0.
Quarterscores: 24-20; 42-35; 59-55; 85-78.