By Peter Atencio
The Gilas Pilipinas Boys banked on the heroics of Keifer Alas and Bonn Ervin Daja to lift the Philippines to a 64-59 beating of Japan on Friday night in the quarterfinal classification matches of 2023 FIBA Under-16 Asian Championship at the Gharafa Sports Club Multipurpose Hall in Doha, Qatar.
Daja, who only had six points, got crucial passes from the top-scoring Alas, and scored back-to-back jumpers that sealed the deal for the Filipinos.
Alas went on to finish with a game-high 29 points, leading the Filipinos to the semifinals, and helping hand the Gilas Boys a ticket to the Under-17 World Cup next year in Turkey.
The Filipinos went on to grab a 64-59 edge with 54 seconds left, and Japan, led by Shogo Takata with 12 points, fell behind behind after missing four three-pointers in the remaining time.
The Philippines moved away after the Japanese side last threatened off Ginga Sembo’s drive, 60-59, with 1:59 left.
Alas, the youngest brother of Kevin Alas, also grabbed nine rebounds, dished out three assists, and had a steal and a block.
Joaquin Ludovice chipped in 11 10 points.
With the win, the Philippines joined Australia, China, and New Zealand in the World Cup.
The Boomers crushed Jordan, 117-50, China escaped Iran, 62-56, while the young New Zealand Tall Blacks hammered Qatar, 110-33.
The Philippines takes on Australia in a first-time-ever showdown in the under-16 division.