Gilas Youth blows past Kuwait to open FIBA U16 campaign on high note

The Gilas Pilipinas Youth team blew past Kuwait, 82-45, to open its 2022 FIBA U16 Asian Championship campaign on a high note at the Al-Gharafa Sports Club Multi-Purpose Hall in Doha Qatar in the wee hours of Tuesday, June 14.

Zain Mahmood faces two defenders in Gilas' 82-45 victory over Kuwait in the 2022 FIBA U16 Asian Championships at the Al-Gharafa Sports Club Multi-Purpose Hall in Doha Qatar (Photo from FIBA)

A blistering opening quarter set the tone for the rout as the Filipinos connected on their early three-point bombs to create the sizeable margin which they never relinquished en route the team’s first win.

Zain Mahmood showed the way for the nationals with 16 points and five rebounds while Jared Bahay had a stellar all-around game of 12 markers, eight boards, six assists and three steals.

Gilas seniors team pool member Caelum Harris struggled in his much-anticipated Gilas debut finishing with just two points on a measly 1-of-6 shooting from the field although he had five rebounds, three assists and three steals across his name.

The Filipinos started the game like a house on fire as Bahay, Jacob Bayla and Lorenzo Competente nailed one triple each in the first six minutes of the opening frame to erect the first double-digit spread at 17-4.

Gilas never looked back from that point as it built a pair of 20-point leads in the first half, the last one at 38-18 before the Filipinos gave the Kuwaitis a thorough beatdown in the last two quarters with the lead reaching to as high as 38 points, 82-44, in the waning minutes of the final frame.

Adel Alsaied paced Kuwait with 12 points and nine rebounds.

In less than 24 hrs, Gilas faces Japan next at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday night (Manila time). A victory would allow the Filipinos to top their group and get an outright spot in the quarterfinals and move a win away from securing its seat in the FIBA U17 World Cup set in July.