PH cagers edge Taiwan in FIBA Asia U-16 tiff, enter World Championship
MANILA, Philippines – It’s a glorious year for Philippine basketball.
The Philippine national Under-16 basketball team continued the momentum crafted by their older counterparts after turning back Chinese Taipei, 77-72, in the semifinals of the FIBA Asia Under-16 Championship in Tehran, Iran on Thursday night.
The win assured the Philippines of a slot in next year’s FIBA Asia Under-17 Championship, capping a splendid period for Philippine basketball with the Smart Gilas national team also qualifying in next year’s World Cup in Madrid, Spain.
Ateneo high school prospect Jolo Mendoza exploded for 28 points to lead the Philippine youth cagers, who forged a finals clash with perennial force China on Saturday.
China earlier ousted Japan, 99-78, in their semis match-up.
The Filipinos gained control for most part of the game thanks to Mendoza’s hot shooting. But the Taiwanese, who trailed by as many as eight points, threatened with a 12-2 run – including a 9-0 assault that netted them a five-point lead – to spring back to life.
The Philippines, however, managed to rally to preserve the win.
Facing a 62-70 deficit at the 5:57 mark of the regulation, the young Filipinos showed their big fighting heart with a 15-2 finish to avenge their 90-95 loss to Taipei in the group stages.
“I told the boys to keep their heads down and focus on the game,” said PHL head coach Jamike Jarin, whose wards avenged their lone loss in the tournament to the same team in the preliminary round.
The victory by the Filipinos immediately made ripples online, with Gilas mentor Chot Reyes among the first to express delight for the team’s achievement.
Reyes even tweeted Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president and businessman Manny Pangilinan’s congratulatory message to Jarin.
Team captain Michael Nieto chalked up 17 points and 14 rebounds to back Mendoza on offense, while Tu Ssu-Hen and Hsu Cheng-Shun finished with 14 points apiece for Chinese Taipei. – With report from fibaasia.net