MANILA – Gilas Pilipinas Youth clinched a spot in the FIBA U17 World Cup after taking down Japan, 64-59, in the quarterfinals of the FIBA U16 Asian Championship at Al-Rayyan Indoor Hall in Doha, Qatar on Saturday.
Kieffer Alas caught fire in the second half to lead Gilas Youth while his timely assists helped seal the win.
Held to only nine points in the second quarter and down, 35-25, at halftime, Gilas Youth outscored Japan, 21-10, in the third quarter to take a 46-45 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Alas had 14 points in the third period, outscoring the entire Japanese squad.
Gilas Youth tried to pull away sooner after opening a 60-55 lead with 3:04 remaining in the final quarter, but back-to-back layups drew Japan to within one, 60-59, with 1:59 to go.
Alas, though, found Bonn Daja open inside twice for back-to-back baskets in the next two plays to help put Japan away.
The 16-year-old Alas came close to a double-double with 29 points and nine rebounds, alongside three assists, one steal, and one block, while Joaquin Ludovice added 11 points, three rebounds, one assist, and two steals for Gilas Youth.
Gilas Youth next battles Australia early Sunday (PH time) in the semifinals.
The World Cup will be held in Turkey on June 29 to July 7, 2024.
Australia and New Zealand are also set to make consecutive appearances at the World Cup, while China and the Philippines are making their returns after missing the 2022 edition in Spain.
The Philippines' best result at the U17 World Cup was in 2018 when it finished 13th.
The other qualified teams are Turkey, USA, Canada, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Guinea, Egypt, Spain, Italy, France, Lithuania and Germany.
Alas is the son of multi-titled coach Louie and brother of Philippine Basketball Association’s Kevin.
Shogo Takata made 12 points and two rebounds for Japan, while Ginga Sembo and Kenichiro Benedict each added 10 points. Benedict also grabbed 14 boards. (PNA)