By Welsh Kendrick Osorio

PHOTO: Inquirer Sports

Gilas Youth's route to the 2022 FIBA Under-16 Asian Championship will have to run through a hard way.

A dauntless "Puso" mindset arose at the Al-Gharafa Multi-Purpose Hall in Doha, Qatar as the Gilas Pilipinas Boys’ Under-16 squad saw action down the stretch before suffering a 73-67 loss against Japan on Tuesday.

Down by 9 points with under three minutes left, Fil-Am Caelum Harris's triple sparked the Philippines' 7-2 rally to whittle the lead down to four, 71-67, before falling short with 33 ticks remaining.

Gilas U16 will face Group D's last-placed team Kazakhstan in a do-or-die playoff match on Thursday after wounding up the group stage in second place with rout of Kuwait, 1-1.
The winner will take on the Australia Boomers in the quarterfinals.

The Filipinos displayed a good defensive stop in the dying seconds as Eijiro Ogawa misfired his trey from the right corner while Gilas Youth head coach Josh Reyes sued for time. 

In the ensuing play, however, Konov failed to connect a triple from the left wing, which Japan's Ogawa capitalized on by draining a long jumper in the last 3 seconds to hold on for the triumph.

With the victory, Japan secured an outright ticket to the quarterfinals.

Harris top scored for Gilas with 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting along with six boards and three steals. 

Jared Bahay added 12 markers, six rebounds, three assists, and three steals while Mahmood chipped in 10 points and five boards but was not enough to fend off Japan's Akatsuki Five.

Power forward Yuto Kawashima sizzled with a double-double performance of 26 points and 18 boards while Leon Watanabe and Ogawa had 30 combined points to muscle the grit of Japan to win.

As a team, the Philippines only registered 4-of-23 from the rainbow country while Japan converted 8-of-29 clip from distance.

After a see-saw battle in the opening frame, where the Philippines only trailed by three points, 14-17, the Japanese hoopers started to assault as they zoomed in to a double-digit margin at halftime, 35-24.

Edited by Quian Vencel Galut