MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippines wrapped up its campaign in the FIBA Under-17 World Championship with a 64-point victory over a hapless United Arab Emirates (UAE) side, 115-51, late Saturday at the Al Shabab Arena in Dubai.
The victory, however, hardly mattered as Batang Gilas coach Jamike Jarin claimed that they have already notched a significant achievement despite finishing 15th in the 16-nation tournament that was won by the United States for a third consecutive time.
"This is just the first try for the Philippines. This is just a baby step, a temporary setback for us," Jarin said. "Being here is already an achievement. We made history."
"Iran is not here, South Korea is here, but the Philippines is here. We're so proud of what we have achieved and we surely gave our best," he added.
Jarin said they have no plans of slowing down.
"Our goal is to compete in the world level every year," he said. "We already broke the barrier, so we should do our best to stay here. We should always represent Asia in world-class youth tournaments."
The Batang Gilas, who punched a ticket to the world stage after a bridesmaid finish in the FIBA Asia Under-16 Championship, kicked off their campaign on a sour note as they lost by an average of 26.1 points to hoops powerhouses like the US, Greece, France and Argentina.
In the battle for the 13th to 16th places against Egypt, the Filipinos had a solid chance, but they were battered in the shaded lane in the second half, relegating them to the battle for the 15th and 16th places against the equally winless UAE.
They crushed the Arabs right from the opening tip with Paul Desiderio, Mike Nieto and Michael Dela Cruz waging a blistering second half rally to erect a comfortable 70-point advantage, 113-43.
Desiderio finished with a team-high 25 points while Nieto and Dela Cruz chipped in 15 markers apiece for the Batang Gilas, who were serenaded with cheers and applause from a large Filipino crowd all game long.
"We just wanted to get a win," said Jarin. "I had no specific instruction. I just told them to go there and get a win for the people of the Philippines and the Filipinos living here in Dubai who have been supporting us."
Jarin and three members of the Batang Gilas -- Desiderio, Richard Escoto and Jollo Go -- flew to Dubai to join nine other teammates in their quest for glory in the FIBA Asia Under-18 Championship starting next week.
Philippines 115 -- Desiderio 25, Dela Cruz 15, Nieto Mike 15, Dario 13, Padilla 12, Navarro 8, Nieto Matt 7, Escoto 6, Go 5, Panlilio 5, Abadeza 4, Mendoza 0
UAE 51 -- Salem 12, Mohammad 11, Juma 9, Alabdulla 9, Alzarooni 5, Almaazmi 4, Saad 0, Alfarsi 0, Alnuamani 0, Alyammahi 0
Quarterscores: 26-15, 49-26, 89-33, 115-51