Kai Sotto showcased his improved strength during Gilas Pilipinas Youth’s second tune-up game in preparation for the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup.
Still, the Philippine Boys’ Basketball National Team needed to dig deep to survive UAAP squad Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 67-66, Thursday evening at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.
Sotto finished with 14 points, including two highlight jams in the second frame. The first was a two-handed jam over Patrick Tchuente, then the other a reverse dunk over Barkley Ebona.
Behind Sotto and Xyrus Torres – who had 14 markers in the game – Batang Gilas led by as much as 12 points entering the final frame.
However, the young Filipinos were put to the test. Ebona, Hubert Cani, and Royce Alforque rallied FEU, cutting the lead to just one with 18 seconds left.
The Tamaraws had a chance to steal the game, as Dave Ildefonso missed both his freebies, leading to a fastbreak attempt for FEU. However, Kenneth Tuffin missed a wide-open triple as time expired, sealing the win for Gilas.
AJ Edu and Gerry Abadiano added nine markers each.
Gilas Youth will hold its last practice on Friday before leaving for a pocket tournament in Doha.