AFTER falling short to Japan, Gilas Pilipinas youth is determined to still make the quarterfinals through the next possible route against Kazakhstan in the qualification phase of the 2022 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) U16 Asian Championship in Doha, Qatar.
Gilas faces Kazakhstan at 8:45 p.m. (Manila time) with the winner advancing to the knockout (KO) playoffs against reigning champion Australia, which topped Pool A with an unbeaten 3-0 card.
The Filipino teens got dragged into the qualifications after settling for the second spot in Pool C following a foiled comeback attempt against eventual group leader and automatic quarterfinalist Japan, 73-67.
Caelum Harris finally broke through in that match the other night, shrugging off his two-point debut in Gilas’ 82-45 win over Kuwait with an 18-point eruption plus six rebounds and two steals.
Jared Bahay (12) and Zain Mahmood (10) also had their shares, but the Nationals could not complete their rally from a 13-point deficit as time expired.
Against Kazakhstan, the wards of coach Josh Reyes eye a resounding rebound to keep their hopes of returning to the World Cup alive.
Gilas has to make the semifinals of the Asian tilt to advance in the 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup in Spain next month.
The previous batch of Gilas led by Kai Sotto achieved multiple Final Four finishes in FIBA Asia to make it to two World Cups. — John Bryan Ulanday