Energen-Pilipinas stops Chinese-Taipei, makes quarters

Showing steely nerves in the stretch, Energen-Pilipinas pulled off a stirring 88-83 victory over erstwhile unscathed Chinese Taipei that assured the Nationals their spot in the quarterfinals of the FIBA Asia Under-18 Championships in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.

Jerie Pingoy and J-Jay Alejandro provided the needed buckets throughout as the Nationals recovered in time to improve their record to 3-1 in Group F alongside the Taiwanese.

Pingoy, the reigning UAAP juniors MVP with FEU-Diliman, capped his 25-point explosion with a timely three-point play in the crunch while Alejandro added 22 points and a team-best nine boards. Rey Nambatac contributed 10 points, four steals and two assists for the Nationals, who are tipped to finish the second round on a high note against winless Bahrain on Wednesday.

Chinese-Taipei, which was led by Lin Kuan-Chun’s 25 markers, meets powerhouse Iran (4-0) in its final assignment in the second round.

“I just told them to slow down the game and keep the ball with our point guard,” stated Philippines coach Olsen Racela. “When you have a game this fast, it’s always better to hold the ball and control the situation instead of playing the second fiddle.”

“Also we had to keep the ball so that we didn’t commit foul. Luckily for us our plays (went effective) in the end,” he added.

Pingoy and Lin went toe-to-toe throughout but the Filipino guard wisely created plays in the critical juncture for Jay Javelosa and Prince Rivero, who both drained two straight baskets that gave the PH team an 81-80 lead.

Chiu Jih-Cheng, however, put Chinese-Taipei ahead anew at 82-81 with 1:32 left. That proved to be their last field-goal as Nambatac translated an offensive board to a twinner before Pingoy completed a three-point play that padded the Nationals’ lead to 86-82with just 46 seconds remaining.

After Lee Chua-ji split his charities, Alejandro was fouled then coolly sank his free throws that pegged the final count.

 “Our players were too nervous and gave the game away,” moaned Taipei coach Yang I-feng. “Given the same situation let’s say 3-4 years later, these very same players might win the game. It’s all about experience, or as it happened today the lack of it.”
 
The scores:
 
Philippines 88 – Pingoy 25, Alejandro 22, Nambatac 10, Javelosa 6, Suarez 6, Cani 5, Olayon 5, Rivero 5, Babilonia 2, Porter 2, Lao 0.

Chinese Taipei 83 – Lin 25, Fan 16, Li 16, Huang H. 9, Chiu 6, Lee 6, Wu 3, Lu 2, Cheng 0, Chin 0, Huang T. 0.
Quarterscores: 17-14, 43-34, 63-64, 88-83

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