Batang Gilas retains SEABA U-16 crown

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Batang Gilas completed a four-game sweep of the fourth Southeast Asia Basketball Association (SEABA) Under-16 Championship on Thursday, beating Malaysia, 83-62, to win its fourth consecutive title at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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Unlike in its past three wins, the young Filipino cagers had to withstand the tough challenge from Malaysia to snatch the crown.

Kai Sotto of Batang Gilas attempts to shoot past Lee Jing Hung of Vietnam during the Southeast Asia Basketball Association Under-16 Championship at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Thursday. SEABA PHILIPPINES PHOTO

“They (Malaysia) used their speed and outside shooting, so I reminded the players to limit their outside shooting in the second half and we limited their touches,” said Batang Gilas coach Mike Oliver.

“We expected them to play their best today because they know they have a chance of becoming a champion also,” he added.

The host team found Malaysia a tough nut to crack early as the visiting nation banked on its three-point shooting and Thiam Mun Won’s triple pushed his team within two, 36-38, with 1:35 left before halftime.

But Batang Gilas managed to pull away after hree quarters, 65-52.

The six-foot-11 lanky center Kai Sotto, who tallied 15 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks, anchored a 12-0 blast to give Batang Gilas its biggest lead at 77-52 with 5:41 remaining.

The wards of Oliver were never threatened since then to remain the prince of hoops in the SEABA.

RC Calimag and Terrence Fortea registered 15 points each, while John Bismarck Lina had 13 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the Filipinos. Raven Cortez added 13 points, while Rence Padrigao contributed 11 rebounds, six assists, five points and two steals also for Batang Gilas, which won its last three games by an average of 44.25 points.

Batang Gilas routed Singapore (108-42), Indonesia (96-73) and Thailand (113-46) in its previous three matches.

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