Batang Gilas has reached the semifinals of the FIBA Under-18 Asian Championship in Nonthaburi, Thailand. In doing so, the Filipino teenagers have also qualified for the 2019 Fiba Under-19 Basketball World Cup.
With inside domination from twin towers Kai Sotto and AJ Edu, as well as inspired play from Dave Ildefonso, the national under-18 team topped its group and blew out opponents by an average of 22 points per game. Add to that the hot shooting and stingy defense from the Pinoy guards, the boys look poised to go all the way.
Let's take a look back at how the Philippines got here.
Gilas vs Lebanon (75-53)
Batang Gilas crashed the boards in this battle, flexing their height and might against the Lebanese. They outrebounded the Middle Easterns by 68 to 41. Ildefonso dropped all of his game-leading 19 points in the first half, while Edu and Sotto combined for 29 points and 20 caroms.
Gilas vs UAE (92-49)
Batang Gilas are a class or two above the UAE and it showed in this game. Every player that checked in the game for the Philippines scored; shooters Xyrus Torres and Rhayyan Amsali caught fire in the third. They outscored their opponents 40-22 in the paint, and dominated the glass, 66 to 26.
Gilas vs China (73-63)
In a game closer than the score indicates, Batang Gilas displayed poise and composure in the crucial moments to come away with a victory. The Philippines led from the get-go, with Dalph Panopio who having a great all-around performance. They held off China's valiant comeback attempt.
Gilas vs Bahrain (67-52)
This was the coming-out party for touted big man Kai Sotto. In a game where he needed to be at his best, Sotto delivered. The 7'1" beanpole finished with 21 points—10 in the third—to help Batang Gilas get over an atrocious second quarter, where Bahrain outscored the Philippines 23-6.