The Energen Pilipinas national youth team opened its campaign on a high note after routing Saudi Arabia, 95-52, in their preliminary round matchup Friday at the FIBA Asia Under-18 Championships in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.
The youth players of Energen coach Olsen Racela were in deadly form offensively, shooting 53% from the field, 38% from three-point range and 78% from the free-throw line as they dominated every quarter of the lopsided match.
Kyle Suarez of the University of the Philippines led five Filipino scorers in double-figures, scoring a team-high 15 points.
Co-captain J-Jay Alejandro scored 14 points while Mario Bonleon added 13. Guards Jerie Pingoy and Rey Nambatac, the juniors’ MVPs of the UAAP and NCAA respectively, finished with 11 and 10 points for the Philippines.
Energen fell behind 6-10 early in the game but rode a huge 17-2 run at the end of the opening period to race to an 11-point lead. They then pushed the advantage up to a more comfortable 20 points, 49-29, by the halftime break.
Bonleon had 11 points and Pingoy had nine after the first 20 minutes of action.
In the third period, Saudi Arabia looked like it would keep pace with the Philippines, until Suarez checked into the game with 3:29 remaining. The swingman sparked a big run for the Filipinos, scoring seven of the first eight points of what ended up as a 12-0 run that put them ahead, 76-43, late in the third.
Energen then put the clamps on Saudi Arabia in the fourth period, holding them down to just nine points, their lowest output in a quarter in the game, to put the game completely out of reach.
Saudi Arabia was led by Waheed Fahiqi, who had 19 points and six rebounds, but struggled heavily as a team. Starters Mohammed Alhosawe and Rasheed Bakhashwain combined to shoot just 1-for-20 from the field.
The Philippines will next face Kazakhstan, which dropped its first assignment, 105-46, to Iran. The game will be played at noon Saturday. Energen Pilipinas will then close out the preliminary round, from which three of the four teams from their group will advance, against Iran on Sunday.
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