Batang Gilas advanced to the FIBA U18 Asian Championship quarterfinals after holding off previously unbeaten China, 73-63, Tuesday in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
A strong third quarter allowed the young Filipinos to pull off a huge win over their taller Chinese opponents. Batang Gilas topped the group stage with a clean 3-0 record to secure an automatic ticket to the next round.
Dave Ildefonso led the charge with 18 points, seven rebounds, and two assists. Dalph Panopio and Miguel Oczon also came through with 12 and 11 markers, respectively.
Twin towers AJ Edu (13 points, 14 rebounds) and Kai Sotto (11 points, 10 rebounds) displayed their might with double-double outings while also combining for nine blocks.
Batang Gilas was on a mission from the get-go, fearlessly attacking and clamping down on defense. The Chinese launched multiple attempts to steal the momentum but the Philippines found ways to halt them in their tracks.
Sotto and Edu manned the shaded area and took turns in rejecting China's inside shots. The Filipinos pulled away in the third quarter behind Ildefonso's hot shooting, highlighted by back-to-back triples that padded their cushion to as many as 18 points.
The Chinese threatened to come back and inched within six, 59-65, with 2:21 left in the contest, but Batang Gilas executed well down the stretch to preserve the lead.
Panopio hit a jumper to push the Philippines further ahead, then Sotto and Edu followed it up with crucial blocks in the next two possessions. Panopio, Edu, and Oczon sealed the deal with last-minute free throws.
Haowen Go paced China with 24 points in the loss, while Quanze Wang added 13 markers and 11 boards.
Batang Gilas' next game will be on Thursday, August 9.