THE GILAS Pilipinas boys’ amazing run came to an abrupt end, suffering a 92-36 blowout loss against the mighty Australia in the FIBA U16 Asian Championship semifinals yesterday at the Al-Gharafa Sports Club Multi-Purpose Hall in Doha, Qatar.
On a four-game win streak, Gilas was clamped down to just 10 points in the first half, including a meager three-point outing in the second period, that took the fight out of the squad en route to a hapless 56-point defeat.
No player finished in double figures for the usually balanced Gilas unit with ace Kieffer Louie Alas bleeding for only two points on one-of-seven shooting after firing 18.6 points in the first four games.
Irus Chua and CJ Amos led the way with six points apiece for the Nationals, who were left off the dust with a 10-45 deficit at the turn and never recovered since then by trailing as many as 60 points.
Gilas shot only 28.9-percent from the field, including three-of-33 from the trey, compared to Australia’s efficient 57-percent clip.
Ranged against the back-to-back champion Aussies whose smallest player stands at 6-foot-3, Gilas was also out-rebounded big time, 73-31, leading to a 27-9 and 62-16 gap in second chance and points in the paint, respectively.
Still, the loss could not dampen the Filipino teens’ stellar campaign marked by a sure ticket to the 2024 FIBA U17 World Cup in Turkey with a commendable semifinal finish.
Gilas’ World Cup qualification off a 64-59 quarterfinal win against Japan realized the country’s return to the world youth stage after five years since 2018 under the golden era of Kai Sotto, Carl Tamayo and AJ Edu.
And Gilas sports a chance to even put an icing on the cake with a rematch against China, which absorbed an 86-69 loss to New Zealand in the other semis pairing, for the bronze medal.
Prior to a shellacking loss to Australia, Gilas’ lone loss came at the expense of the Chinese, 84-67, in the opener before stringing four straight wins against Kazakhstan, 66-42, Malaysia, 75-52, South Korea, 95-71, and Japan.
Meanwhile, all players barged into the scoring board for Australia led by Dash Daniels with 12 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in only 20 minutes of play. — John Bryan Ulanday