Sotto-led Batang Gilas bludgeons Singapore
KAI Sotto put on a big show, some three days after he turned 15.
The 6’11” Sotto hit 17 points to spearhead Batang Gilas in its 108-42 demolition of Singapore Sunday at the start of the 2017 Southeast Asian Basketball Under-16 Championship at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Delighted over his first international stint, Sotto started making his intimidating presence felt in the closing minutes of the first period.
“Masaya ako sa first game ko. Ang ganda ng nilaro namin,” said Sotto, who celebrated his birthday last Thursday.
Batang Gilas, which also got 14 points from Terrence Fortea and Rence Padrigao, is now in the early lead with Malaysia.
John Tang led with 23 points for the Malaysians, who turned back Indonesia, 63-58.
The 5’9” Padrigao, a standout from Adamson University, delivered nine points in the first period.
His triple and driving shot in the last 9:46 handed the Batang Gilas a 19-3 cushion in the 5:46 of the opening quarter.
“Start ng game, nangangapa kami. Fortunately, naka-recover ang mga bata at nag-focus agad,” said Batang Gilas coach Michael Oliver.
The host squad got off to a great start, racing to a 9-0 lead behind efforts from RC Calimag and McLaude Guadana.
With Sotto coming into the picture in the last four minutes of the opening period, Batang Gilas went on to take 23-point edge when the quarter ended, 33-10.
They limited the Singaporeans to 14 points in the next period, and with John Bismarck Lina protecting the boards and hauling seven rebounds.
Then, they took a 47-18 spread with 5:33 left behind back-to-back hits from Rafael Go.
Guadana, who had nine points, gave the Nationals a 41-point lead, 71-28, with his jumper in the remaining 5:53 of the third.
Sotto, son of former PBA player Ervin Sotto, was naturally the center of attraction, but his teammate Padrigao grabbed his share of the spotlight as the Ateneo-bound guard finished with 14 points, six assists and four assists.
Padrigao’s play earned him praises from coach Mike Oliver.”Naging very easy sa akin ang pagko-coach dahil siya ang nag-direct ng offense namin kanina,” Oliver said. “Nadala naman niya yung team, both on offense and defense.”
In the men’s tournament, Indonesia squeaked past Thailand, 60-59, behind Mario Wuysang’s clutch basket with 11 seconds left.
The Indonesians remained unbeaten after three outings as they dealt the Thais their first loss in three games.