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Philippines reign supreme at SEABA U16 Championship 2017
The team more popularly known as Batang Gilas started slow, but they eventually found their groove against erstwhile undefeated Malaysia, 83-62, behind the 15 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks of phenom Kai Sotto. He was backstopped by RC Calimag and Terrence Fortea, both of whom also tallied 15 points in the team's fourth win of the tournament. Team Captain Forthsky Padrigao, for his part, had 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals in the title-clinching triumph.
The Philippines have never lost a game in the history of this competition, and that streak remained intact thanks to the efforts of coach Michael Oliver's squad. The face of Batang Gilas is, undeniably, Sotto, who is just 15-years-old but already stands 2.10m. High expectations were heaved on him prior to the tournament, and he lived up to the hype. The young man many hope will carry the Philippines' colors for the better part of the next two decades averaged 12.5 points, 8.5 boards and 3.0 blocks per contest. His herculean efforts helped push the Philippines into their third straight appearance at the FIBA U16 Asia Championship.
6-foot-11 enigma Kai Sotto made his international debut Sunday afternoon when Batang Gilas took on Singapore in the second game of the 2017 SEABA U-16 Championship. And the 15-year-old, who celebrated his birthday three days ago, made it his personal celebration. Sotto, who studies and players for the Ateneo de Manila University, finished the game with 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting, five rebounds, and three swats to lead Batang Gilas to a 108-42 win. And he was just happy to get this game under his belt. #SEABA #Under16 #BatangGilas
Joining the Filipinos there will be the Malaysians, who finished the competition with a 3-win, 1-loss card. Malaysia were able to keep in step with the hosts for one whole half, but their guns fell silent in the second half and that's when Batang Gilas made their move. Teoh Yi Kang paced the losing side with 19 points, while the dynamic duo of John Tang and Wong Thiam Mun struggled with a combined 5-of-23 field goal shooting.
Rounding out the top three teams of the tournament were Thailand, who earlier subdued Singapore, 75-58, for their second win in four games. The Thais, however, will not join the Philippines and Malaysia at the FIBA U16 Asia Championship 2017, which will feature the top youth teams from all over the continent in addition to the U16 squads of Australia and New Zealand. The hosts of the FIBA U16 Asia Championship 2017 will be announced soon.