Batang Gilas outplayed Malaysia via a 62-57 decision to nail its first win in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asian Under-16 Championship on Monday at the Foshan Lingnan Mingzhu Gymnasium in Foshan, China.
The nationals were a little bit shaky at the start, leading only by 30-27 at the halftime before cruising to a 13-point advantage, 59-46, in the middle of the last period capped by a Raven Angelo Cortez lay up. Since then, they did not relinquish their lead for good.
John Terrence Fortea scattered 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds while 7-foot-1 center Zachary Kai Sotto was a dominant force at the middle, racking up 12 points plus 16 rebounds and swatting away four enemy shots to lead the Filipinos.
The 6-foot-7 Cortez finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds in addition to his two steals, while Recaredo Christian Calimag contributed eight points and six rebounds also for Batang Gilas.
John Tang Jun Kai led the Malaysians with 17 points.
Malaysia showed some improvement in this game compared to its last year’s performance when Batang Gilas routed Malaysia, 83-62, in the Southeast Asia Basketball Association Finals, which the country hosted.
On Wednesday morning, Batang Gilas will face a much challenging opponent when it tangles with powerhouse Australia also in the preliminary round of Group B.
The competition is a qualifying tournament for the 2018 FIBA Under-17 World Cup in Argentina. Four countries will qualify from the FIBA Asia U-16 to the FIBA World Cup.