Energen Pilipinas showed plenty of heart in the endgame as it pulled off a huge victory over erstwhile unbeaten Chinese Taipei, 88-83, in the FIBA Asia Under-18 Championships in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.
The backcourt duo of Jerie Pingoy and J-Jay Alejandro proved too much for the Taiwanese, as they helped the team come back from a 78-75 deficit with three minutes remaining to win the game. Pingoy scored 25 points, including a crucial three-point play in the final minute, and five assists while Alejandro had 22 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
With the win, the Philippines moved up to 3-1 to tie their victims in Group F play and assure that it would go through to the eight-team quarterfinals.
The Philippines and Chinese Taipei kept things tight for most of the first half, before the Filipinos closed out the second quarter with a 12-0 run, six coming from Pingoy, that gave them a 43-34 advantage at the half.
But Chinese Taipei had a big turnaround in the third quarter behind Lin Kuan-Chun, who scored a whopping 16 points in the period to give his team a one-point lead entering the final 10 minutes. The Filipinos were outscored 30-20 in the third.
A basket by Kyle Suarez would give the Philippines a four-point lead, 6:57 remaining. But Chinese Taipei would go on a 9-2 run, capped by a pair of free throws from Lin, that gave them a three-point lead with about four minutes left.
Pingoy would score, but Lin would answer with two more free throws to restore the advantage. Pingoy then set up back-to-back baskets for big men Jay Javelosa and Prince Rivero, giving the Philippines an 81-80 lead.
Chinese Taipei would have their last taste of the lead at 82-81 after a Chiu Jih-Cheng scored with 1:32 to play. Rey Nambatac scored off an offensive board, then Pingoy completed a three-point play that put the Philippines’ lead up to four with just 46 seconds on the clock.
Chinese Taipei cut it down to three on a split from the free-throw line, but Alejandro sealed the win with a pair of charities that made it 88-83 with just 18 seconds to play.
Lin led Chinese Taipei with 25 points while Li Yu-Wei and Fan Shih-En each had 16.
Nambatac was the only other Filipino in double-figures with 10 points. Javelosa and Suarez each added six.
The Filipinos have a chance to nab solo second place in the group after the final day of the second round, with Chinese Taipei scheduled to face powerhouse Iran and the Philippines drawing an easier assignment in Bahrain, which sports an 0-3 record.
The second placer in Group F gets to meet the third-placer of the opposite group, which is currently Lebanon. Finishing in second would mean avoiding the top two teams from Group E, China and Korea, until the semifinals.
Philippines (88) – Pingoy 25, Alejandro 22, Nambatac 10, Javelosa 6, Suarez 6, Cani 5, Olayon 5, Rivero 5, Babilonia 2, Porter 2, Lao 0.
Chinese Taipei (83) – Lin 25, Fan 16, Li 16, Huang H. 9, Chiu 6, Lee 6, Wu 3, Lu 2, Cheng 0, Chin 0, Huang T. 0.
Quarterscores: 17-14, 43-34, 63-64, 88-83.
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