By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
WHAT was a rough campaign at the FIBA Basketball Under-19 World Cup in Greece for Gilas Pilipinas Youth came to an end on Sunday with the team finishing in 14th place in the 16-team field.
Played undermanned for much of the tournament after key cog AJ Edu came down with a campaign-ending knee injury in their first game, the Philippine youth team still showed grit and determination to make things happen for the rest of the tournament, which was eventually topped by the United States.
Gilas Youth had a chance to finish a rung higher at 13th but it was not able to hold off a ferocious charge in the end by New Zealand as it slumped to the 76-70 defeat on Sunday.
Carl Tamayo finished with a double-double for the Philippines with 24 points and 12 rebounds with Dalph Panopio and Dave Ildefonso adding 16 points apiece.
Kai Sotto finished with eight points, eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
Their efforts, however, were not enough to stop the Tall Blacks from coming from behind and snatching the win.
All in all, the Philippines wound up with a 1-6 record in the weeklong tournament, the third best team from Asia behind Australia and New Zealand, which finished ninth and 13th, respectively.
The lone victory of Gilas Youth came at the expense of China on Saturday, 86-72.
Ildefonso led all scorers for the Philippines with a tournament average of 16.6 points, ninth in the tournament. He also collared 5.4 rebounds and dished out 3.7 assists per game.
Tamayo had a slow start but picked things up as the tournament progressed to tally norms of 12.3 points and 6.1 rebounds while Sotto averaged 11.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, two assists and 3.1 blocks per match.
As a team, the Sandy Arespacochaga-coached Gilas Youth averaged the least number of points with 68.7 points per contest, 15th in rebound (39.1 boards), 15th in assists (15.7 dimes), fifth in blocks (4.9 swats) and 12th in steals (6.1 swipes).
It ended in the top 10 of the most turnover-prone teams, eighth with 16.4 miscues per contest.
US TOURNAMENT CHAMP
Meanwhile, the United States topped the U19 World Cup for the seventh time after defeating tournament surprise Mali, 93-79, in the finals.
Cade Cunningham collected 21 points to pace five US players in double figures as they added the 2019 crown to their extensive collection, which includes titles from 1979, 1983, 1991, 2009, 2013 and 2015.
Ending up in third is France, which defeated Lithuania, 73-68.
The most valuable player of the tournament award went to Reggie Perry of the US and he was joined on the All-Star Five by his teammate Tyrese Haliburton, Oumar Ballo and Siriman Kanoute of Mali and Joel Ayayi of France.
The final ranking of the tournament is as follows: US, Mali, France, Lithuania, Russia, Puerto Rico, Serbia, Canada, Australia, Greece, Argentina, Latvia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Senegal and China.