By Jerome Lagunzad
(Newell’s Old Boys Stadium)
1:15 a.m. — Batang Gilas vs Mali
Batang Gilas paid dearly for its sluggish start as the Nationals bowed to the heavily-favored Canadians, 102-62, yesterday, kissing their quarterfinal hopes goodbye in the 2018 FIBA Under-17 Basketball World Cup at the Newell’s Old Boys Stadium in Rosario, Argentina.
The Nationals, ranked 29 rungs lower than their latest rivals, simply had no answer from the get go as the talented Canadians, bannered by several blue-chip NBA prospects, scored the first 14 points and never let up on the way to an expected one-sided affair at the opening phase of the knockout rounds.
Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, a four-star NBA prospect, finished with a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds while Benjamin Nathaniel Krikke added 13 points for Canada, which overwhelmed Batang Gilas in all fronts and set up a knockout quarterfinal duel with No. 9 Australia, the reigning Asian champion.
National University guard Gerry Abadiano once again emerged as the brightest spot with 19 points on an efficient 7-of-11 shooting clip but the rest of his fellow Nationals groped for form against the Canadians’ defensive pressure.
Prized big man Kai Zachary Sotto tallied 16 points but made just five of his 18 attempts from the field. The Ateneo Blue Eaglets star, however, added eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and as many blocks while going up against the more athletic and quicker Canadian frontline.