By REYNALD MAGALLON
Gilas Pilipinas youth team blew past Kuwait 82-45, to open its 2022 FIBA U16 Asian Championship campaign on a high note Tuesday at the Al-Gharafa Sports Club Multi-Purpose Hall in Doha, Qatar.
A blistering opening quarter set the tone for the rout as the Filipinos detonated early three-point bombs to create the sizeable margin which they never relinquished en route the team’s first win.
Zain Mahmood showed the way for the Nationals with 16 points and five rebounds while Jared Bahay had a stellar all-around game of 12 markers, eight boards, six assists and three steals.
Gilas seniors team pool member Caelum Harris struggled in his much-anticipated Gilas debut finishing with just two points on a measly 1-of-6 shooting from the field although he had five rebounds, three assists and three steals across his name.
The Josh Reyes-mentored squad started the game like a house on fire as Bahay, Jacob Bayla and Lorenzo Competente nailed one triple each in the first six minutes of the opening frame to erect the first double-digit spread of the game at 17-4.
All players fielded by Reyes, including Santi Romero, son of NorthPort owner and Partylist Rep. Mikee Romero, contributed a little of everything.
Gilas never looked back from that point as it built a pair of 20-point leads in the first half, the last one at 38-18 before the Filipinos gave the Kuwaitis a thorough beatdown in the last two quarters with the lead reaching to as high as 38 points, 82-44, in the waning minutes of the final frame.
Adel Alsaied paced Kuwait with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Gilas is playing Japan as of press time and a victory would allow the Filipinos to top their group and get an outright spot in the quarterfinals. They will also move a win away from securing its seat in the FIBA U17 World Cup set in July.
PHILIPPINES 82 – Mahmoud 16, Bahay 12, Bayla 10, Porter 10, Competente 9, Konov 7, Gemao 5, Nieto 4, Jones 4, Harris 2, Reyes 2, Romero 1.
KUWAIT 45 – Alsaied 12, Alrashaid 10, Alresheedan 8, Asadallah 7, Malallah 6, T. Mohammad 2, Alenizi 0, Alhusaini 0, B. Mohammad 0, Edhbayah 0.
Quarters: 25-9, 43-24, 64-33, 82-45.