The Energen Pilipinas national youth team formalized its entry into the second round after closing out strong against Kazakhstan to win, 83-69, in the preliminary round of the FIBA Asia Under-18 Championship in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.
The Philippines, unlike in their game against Saudi Arabia, could not put their opponents away early but had a strong stand in the final minutes to finish with their second win in as many games.
The Filipinos were led by Mario Bonleon of La Salle Greenhills, who had a team-high 20 points while co-captain J-Jay Alejandro finished with 18 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Kazakhstan, behind the outside shooting of Alexey Kurochka, Alymzhan Maxutov and Maxim Marchuk, kept things even in the first quarter at 18-apiece. They then went up by as much as seven points, 26-19, on a three-pointer by Maxutov early in the second period.
But the Filipinos tightened things up, going on a huge 19-2 blast over the next seven and a half minutes to eventually take an eight-point lead into the halftime break.
The three-pointers started falling again for Kazakhstan in the third, swinging the advantage back their way, 49-46, midway through the period. Bonleon and Kris Porter then scored all nine points of a 9-2 run that restored a four-point lead for the Philippines.
Kazakhstan got as close as one point, 55-56, to open up the fourth after Marchuk hit all three of his attempts in a trip to the charity stripe with 7:29 to play. But the Filipinos, led by Alejandro, had a 10-1 run to restore a double-digit lead with under five minutes to play.
Alejandro, who scored 11 of his 18 points in the crucial fourth period, had six of the team’s 10 points in the run. He struggled shooting the ball in the first three periods, but made up for it by getting to the line repeatedly in the fourth. He went 11-for-12 from the line for the game, and hit nine free throws in the final period to help stave off Kazakhstan.
Kyle Suarez, who topscored in their opener against Saudi Arabia, scored 14 points while point guard Hubert Cani also finished in double figures with 10.
The Philippines controlled the inside against Kazakhstan, winning the rebounding battle 47-35 and outscoring their foes 28-6 in the paint.
Kazakhstan was led by 22 points each from Maxutov and Kurochka while Marchuk had 14. The three combined to hit all 11 of Kazakhstan’s three-pointers in the game.
The win puts the Philippines through to the second group stage, where three of the four teams from their group will advance. The Filipinos will close their preliminary round campaign against Iran tomorrow.
Philippines (83) – Bonleon 20, Alejandro 18, Suarez 14, Cani 10, Pingoy 4, Porter 4, Rivero 4, Babilonia 3, Lao 2, Nambatac 2, Olayon 2, Javelosa 0.
Kazakhstan (69) – Kurochka 22, Maxutov 22, Marchuk 14, Zhumabek 5, Nalogov 3, Kadtsin 2, Nurkhanov 1, Korotkiy 0, Kryachko 0, Toktarov 0, Tulepbergenov 0.
Quarterscores: 18-18, 38-30, 55-52, 83-69.
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