THE Philippines is now assured of a coveted ticket in the FIBA U17 World Cup in Turkey next year — thanks to rising star Kiefer Louie Alas.
Alas scattered a game-high 29 points in Gilas Pilipinas’ 64-59 win over erstwhile unbeaten Japan, in their quarterfinal battle FIBA U16 Asian Championship at the Al Gharafa Sports Hub in Doha, Qatar on Saturday.
The win — which came after Gilas’ convincing 95-71 victory over arch-rival South Korea last Friday — also enabled the Gilas boys to advance to the semifinals against Australia.
Australia routed Jordan, 117-50.
Regardless of the results of their semis match, both the Philippines and Australia are assured of a seat in next year’s FIBA U17 World Cup along with China and New Zealand in the Doha qualifiers.
China, 62-56 winner over Iran, and New Zealand, 110-33 victor over host Qatar, will clash in the other semifinal Saturday.
Alas, the youngest son of former national team coach Louie Alas, almost singlehandedly carried the fight for the Filipinos as he scored 14 of the team;s 21 points in the third quarter.
The 16-year-old Alas outscored the entire Japanese team all by himself in the third quarter to give the Filpinos the much-needed momentum in the back-and-forth battle.
Alas added eight points more as the Gilas boys held their ground against the Japanese in the closing minutes.
Alas, the leading scorer for Gilas with averages of 21.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game during the SEABA U16 Qualifiers in July, finished with 229 points on 11-of-25 shooting, nine rebounds and three assists in 32 minutes of action.
Joaquin Gabriel Ludovice added 11 points and three rebounds while Kurt Nathan Velasquez contributed 10 points and three rebounds for the coach Josh Reyes-mentored Filipinos, who also won over Kazakhstan (66-42) and Malaysia (75-52) after an opening-day loss to China (67-84) in the group phase.
Shogo Takata led Japan’s losing effort with 12 points, followed by Kenichiro Benedict and Ginga Sembo with 10 points each.
Actually, the two teams struggled with their shooting accuracy throughout the game, particularly from beyond the three-point line.
The Philippines managed just 21.7 percent, while Japan converted a mere 10 percent of attempt.
Earlier Friday, Ludovice scored 19 of his game-high 25 points in the first half as the Filipinos ended a nine-game losing skid against the Koreans in the U16 and U18 tournaments.
Velasquez added 17 points and seven rebounds, Bonn Ervin Daja contributed 13 points and 10 boards and Alas had a double-double of 11 points 13 rebounds.
CJ Amos was the other double-digit scorer for Gilas with 10 markers.
Daniel Edil paced South Korea with 18 points.