The Gilas Pilipinas Under-16 team could not sustain a fine start and absorbed an 84-67 defeat against China in their first game of the 2023 FIBA Under-16 Asian Championship, Sunday at the Al-Gharafa Sports Club Hall in Doha, Qatar.
China imposed their will inside the paint to pull away in the second half, where they limited the Philippines to just 24 points.
Kieffer Alas led the young Philippines side with 20 points, eight rebounds, and three assists, while Cletz David Amos (13 points) and Kurt Nathan Velasquez (12) also reached double-digits.
But China dominated inside the paint, where they scored 40 points to only 20 for the Filipinos. China also had a 48-36 rebounding edge, including 15 offensive rebounds that led to 18 second-chance points.
Boyuan Zhang had 18 points, but it was Wenhao Fu who keyed China's win with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Gilas trailed by just one point, 44-43, at the half but China seized control in the third period. Samuel Alegre had a chance to make it a one-point game after getting fouled while converting a layup, 57-55, but he missed the bonus free throw.
On the other end, Wenwei He completed his own and-1 play, and the four-point swing gave China all the momentum it needed to break the game open.
The Filipinos then ran out of steam in the final quarter, where they scored just eight points.
The Gilas Boys will be back in action later against Kazakhstan in a must-win game in Group D. Only the winner of the group is assured of a place in the quarterfinals; the second- and third-ranked teams will battle in a qualification to the last eight.
The top four teams in the tournament will earn tickets to the 2024 FIBA Under-17 World Cup.