It was written in the stars that Batang Gilas would win this one handily, devastatingly.
Before a fair-sized crowd that took its lunch early to watch the local side battle a perennial foe at midday, the Filipinos proved too good, too strong for Malaysia, scoring an 83-62 rout to win the Seaba U-16 championship via a sweep yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
It was as easy as brushing your teeth in the morning.
Although the Malaysians kept the Filipinos within reach for three quarters, it was obvious from the very beginning that they would lose this winner-take-all game by a big margin.
And the Malaysians did fall in embarrassing fashion in the end.
Team captain Forthsky Padrigao and promising RC Calimag worked hardest in a telling 24-6 run in the fourth period to stretch a seven-point advantage to 77-52 going to the final five minutes of the contest.
“I’m proud of these boys,” said head coach Mike Oliver shortly after the game. “Expected na magbibigay sila ng laban kasi 3-0 din sila. Alam naman nating maglalaro sila ng best nila.”
In winning the title, the Filipinos preserved their unbeaten record which now stands at 16 straight counting the previous 12 they registered in the last three editions of the tournament held to select the region’s two bets in the Fiba Asia championship set this year.
Padrigao didn’t score much, but set the table for Calimag, with 15 points in total, and Kai Sotto who posted a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double, to provide big help in destroying the gritty Malaysians.
“Ginamit nila ’yung advantage nila na speed sa atin so ginamit natin ’yung advantage natin na height,” Oliver said.
In 2015, the two teams also met in the finals with the Filipinos also emerging triumphant.
Despite their loss, the Malaysians will also be participating in the FIBA Asia U16 as runner-up to the Filipinos.
Philippines (83) – Fortea 15, Calimag 15, Sotto 15, Lina 13, Cortez 13, Guadana 6, Padrigao 5, Pascual 1, Go 0, Lazaro 0.
Malaysia (62) – Teoh YK 19, Tang 8, Wong 8, Yap 8, Tan E 7, Khor 5, S. Chandaran 4, Tan C 3, Lee 0, Chin 0.
Quarterscores: 22-15, 43-36, 65-52, 83-62