Gilas Boys book trip to Fiba U17 World Cup, beat Japan
MANILA, Philippines — Kieffer Alas played his best game yet and propeled Gilas Pilipinas Boys past Japan, 64-59, and into the Fiba U16 Asian Championship semifinal on Saturday in Doha, Qatar.
More importantly, the comeback win also booked them a ticket to next year’s U17 World Cup, which takes place in Turkey. It marks just the Philippines’ third appearance in the U17 world championship after the program’s first two campaigns in 2014 and 2018.
With Gilas staring at a 10-point deficit in the third quarter, Alas took charge and unleashed 14 of his game-high 29 points in the pivotal period.
Alas, who also collected nine rebounds, three assists, one steal and a block, single-handedly outscored Japan in the third quarter where the Japanese were held to just 10 points. He fell just a rebound shy of notching a fourth consecutive double-double.
Gilas Boys go for a final berth late Saturday night against unbeaten Australia, which overwhelmed Jordan, 117-50, in their quarterfinal game.
Bonn Ervin Daja also provided Gilas a lift in the final two minutes. Daja only finished with six points but four of those came when it mattered most. He hit back-to-back clutch baskets off a pair of Alas assists for a 64-59 cushion with 54 ticks to go.
Kurt Velasquez drained a jumper to give the Philippines a 60-55 lead with 3:04 remaining before Yoshinosuke Murakami and Ginga Sembo scored back-to-back layups to pull Japan within a point with still 1:59 left. The Japanese, however, missed their next six attempts and went scoreless the rest of the way.
Joaquin Ludovice, coming off a 25-point outburst in a 95-71 win over Korea on Friday, scored 11 points while Velasquez chipped in 10 points.
Japan was led by Shogo Takata’s 12 points before he was ejected after a technical foul midway through the third quarter. Kenichiro Benedict put up 10 points and 14 rebounds, while Sembo also scored 10.