THE GILAS Pilipinas boys cruised to a 75-52 win over Malaysia to barge into the next round of the FIBA U16 Asian Championship on Wednesday at the Al-Rayyan Indoor Hall in Doha, Qatar.
Gilas banked on a scorching 29-8 start and never looked back to wrap up its Group D campaign at 2-1 with two straight wins after an 84-67 debut loss against China.
The Filipino dribblers, who also trounced Kazakhstan with a 66-42 win, secured the second spot in Group D for a ticket in the qualification to the quarterfinals, where they will face South Korea for a shot at Japan.
Unbeaten teams China of Group D, Japan (from Group B, Australia (Group A) and New Zealand (Group C) booked automatic tickets to the Last 8, awaiting the winners of the qualification featuring the second and third-ranked squads.
For the third straight game, Kieffer Louie Alas led the way for the Nationals with 15 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block.
Kurt Nathan Velasquez added 13 points as nine more players scored for the charges of coach Josh Reyes, who are out to improve on a seventh-place finish last year also in Doha.
Elijah Mark Williams quarterbacked Gilas’ offense with nine points and nine assists with Edryn Morales and Bonn Ervin Daja chipping in seven each. Mr. Daja also had 10 rebounds.
Riding on a 24-point win over Kazakhstan, Gilas caught fire early to run away with a quick 31-11 lead and led by as many as 34 points en route to an easy 23-point win.
Gilas shot 39 percent from the field, built on 21 assists, compared to Malaysia’s 28 percent. The team also outrebounded its foe, 60-51.
No player had double digits for Malaysia, which will face Jordan in the qualification for a chance to meet reigning two-time champion Australia in the quarterfinals. — John Bryan Ulanday