MANILA, Philippines – The Energen Pilipinas national youth team banked on their experience and composure in the endgame to escape Chinese-Taipei, 88-83, in the FIBA Asia Under-18 Championship in Ulan Bator, Mongolia Tuesday.
In what was a tight, back-and-forth contest all throughout, Energen Pilipinas proved to be the steadier squad down the stretch, getting clutch baskets from reigning UAAP juniors MVP Jerie Pingoy and taking advantage of Chinese-Taipei’s foul trouble.
With 1:11 left in the contest, Rey Nambatac scored the go-ahead shot to make it 83-82 in favor of Energen Pilipinas. Pingoy iced the victory for the Philippines when he converted a crucial three-point play with 46 seconds to go.
"I just told them to slow down the game and keep the ball with our point guard," head coach Olsen Racela told FIBAAsia.net.
"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 a foul," he added.
After two free throws by Chia-jui Lee made it 83-86, J-Jay Alejandro made two free throws to hold off Chinese-Taipei.
Pingoy finished with 25 points for the Philippines, while Alejandro added 22 points and nine rebounds.
Kuan-chun Lin topscored for Chinese-Taipei with 25 points, but their coach, Yang I-feng, was disappointed with his team's lack of composure in the end game.
"Our players were too nervous and gave the game away," he said. "Given the same situation, let's say three to four years later, these very same players might win the game."
"It's all about the experience, or as it happened today, the lack of it," he added.
Energen Pilipinas and Chinese-Taipei both carry 3-1 records. Iran remains undefeated in Group F with a 4-0 slate.