The Gilas Pilipinas Youth team fell to a more experienced squad from the host nation, 85-69 in the opener of the FIBA Under-19 World Cup at the Heraklion Indoor Sports Arena, Sunday morning (Manila time) in Heraklion, Greece.
The Greeks were able to establish control of the ballgame in the 2nd half as the hosts took full advantage of the absence of 6-foot-10 Filipino-Cypriot AJ Edu who came down with a knee injury in the 7-minute mark of the 1st period.
Despite the loss of Edu and the early foul trouble of the bigs, the Filipinos battled the hosts on equal terms and even took a 10-point lead, 22-12, in the early goings. Gilas had more blocks, 7-2, and the battle of the boards were dead even at 43. The hosts, however, enjoyed a huge advantage in free throws as they were awarded 46 compared to the 28 for the Filipinos.
Kai Sotto led the Philippine youth side with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 3 shot blocks while Gerry Abadiano also finished with 13 markers. Sean Ildefonso and Carl Tamayo added 12 and 9 points, respectively.
Edu, who was held scoreless after only 2 minutes of action, is doubtful for the team’s next game which is against Argentina. Game time is 1:00am, Monday, July 1 (Manila time).