THE PHILIPPINES tied Malaysia behind unbeaten and group leader China entering a virtual setto for the No. 2 spot. — SCREENGRAB FROM THE FIBA - THE BASKETBALL CHANNEL

THE GILAS Pilipinas boys’ team bounced back in style with a 66-42 blowout win over Kazakhstan to barge into the winner’s circle of the FIBA U16 Asian Championship yesterday (Sept. 20) at the Al-Rayyan Indoor Hall in Doha, Qatar.

Contrary to a cold finish in its debut 84-67 loss to China, the Filipinos unleashed a strong second-half showing this time highlighted by a deciding 22-3 outburst in the third period en route to a 1-1 slate in Group D.

The Philippines tied Malaysia behind unbeaten and group leader China entering a virtual setto for the No. 2 spot and a ticket in the qualification to the quarterfinals.

Barring any major upset against winless Kazakhstan, China is a cinch for Group D’s top-seeding with a 2-0 card after dismantling Malaysia, 95-33. Malaysia got its first win also against Kazakhstan, 79-71, in the opener.

Kieffer Louie Alas, who fired 20 against the Chinese bets, once again bannered the attack with 18 points and 10 rebounds on top of two assists and three steals in 31 minutes of play.

Joaquin Gabriel Ludovice produced 11 points and three steals while Bonn Ervin Daja had 10 points and eight rebounds. CJ Amos and Kurt Nathan Velasquez added six points each.

Fired up by a late meltdown against China, Gilas flipped a slow start by erupting for 22 points in the third while limiting Kazakhstan to three points with no field goals to turn a 25-30 halftime deficit into a 47-33 lead.

The Filipinos were relentless in clamping down the Kazakhs from there on, making their foes bleed anew for only nine points on its way to a convincing 24-point victory.

Overall, Gilas’ tough defense held Kazakhstan to only 22 percent from the field including a subpar 2-of-22 shooting from downtown. Gilas shot 36 percent from the clip with its second-stringers dealing the heaviest damage on a 28-5 bench scoring.

Alisher Muratuly put up 15 points as no other player scored in double figures for the listless Kazakhstan.

Gilas, under the watch of head coach Josh Reyes, is out to surpass its seventh-place finish in the last Asian youth tilt edition also held in Doha. — John Bryan Ulanday