By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
BATANG Gilas dropped its third straight game at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup on Wednesday but not after pushing to the limit host Argentina at the Newell’s Old Boys in Rosario. A battle of two winless teams in Group D of the tournament, the Filipinos crowded the hosts for much of the contest but just could not complete the task, slumping to the 74-71 defeat.
The two teams had it close to start the match before Argentina made a 14-7 run in the last five minutes of the opening frame to build a 20-13 lead at the end of the first canto.
Batang Gilas would find its offensive groove in the second quarter with Terrence Fortea leading the way.
It would outscore Argentina, 19-16, in the period to narrow its deficit to just four points, 36-32, by the halftime break.
The Philippines continued with its charge back in the second half, trailing by just two points, 58-56, at the end of the third period, and taking the lead altogether, 64-61, at the 7:15 mark of the fourth period after Fortea drained a three-pointer.
But Argentina regained its footing, going on a 13-4 run in the next five minutes to hold a 74-68 lead entering the last two minutes.
It tried to build on it but the Philippines would step up their defense.
Fortea pulled the Philippines three points closer, 74-71, with a trifecta with 27 seconds to go.
A passing error by Juan Cruz Scacchi gave the Philippines a window to tie the count and send the game into overtime, but three-point attempts by Kai Sotto and Gerry Abadiano as time expired failed to connect, handing the victory to Argentina.
Fortea and Abadiano led Batang Gilas with 17 points each while Sotto had 13 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks.
Argentina, meanwhile, was paced by Juan Francisco Fernandez with 15 points, followed by Ezequiel Paz and Agustin Cavalin with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
With the loss, Batang Gilas stayed in the cellar of Group D with a 0-3 record.
It will face undefeated and Group C top team Canada in the knockout Round of 16 early Thursday morning (Manila time).