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2024 Summer Olympics

Gilas Men’s resilience shines despite loss to Georgia, secure OQT-Riga semis berth


Gilas Pilipinas Men just needed to play the mathematics game against the Crusaders of Georgia.

But no one told the Filipinos that.

Despite losing 94-96, the Philippines showed tremendous grit, composure, and heart, erasing an early deficit to advance to the semifinals of the 2024 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament-Latvia on Thursday evening at Arena Riga.

2024-FIBA-OQT-Gilas-vs-Georgia-Dwight-Ramos Gilas Men's resilience shines despite loss to Georgia, secure OQT-Riga semis berth 2024 Summer Olympics Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

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“We already had our ticket reservations to leave tomorrow. I guess we have to move them back a bit. That’s how surprised we are to still be here,” quipped Gilas head coach Tim Cone.

“It’s the first time I’ve felt good about losing.”

The Philippines will enter the knockout rounds as the second seed and will either face Montenegro (B, 1-1), Brazil (1-0), or Cameroon (0-1). The Cameroon-Brazil match will take place at midnight.

Entering the game, Georgia needed to beat the Philippines by more than 18 points to advance to the next round.

Georgia lost to Latvia on opening day, 83-55, while the Philippines defeated the hosts, 89-80.

However, Tim Cone’s men did not allow Georgia to extinguish their Paris dreams.

Not tonight.

Facing an early 16-0 deficit and down by 20 points early in the second quarter after a Joe Thomasson triple, Gilas’ woes compounded when they lost Kai Sotto after a freak accident.

The crash occurred with 6:42 left in the second quarter after Goga Bitadze landed on him during a loose ball skirmish.

Sotto had scored 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds in Gilas’ stunning win over Latvia earlier in the day.

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However, he only played 11 minutes and 49 seconds in the contest.

Little by little, inch by inch, Gilas found their groove, dictating the tempo of the game with Cone switching to a zone defense.

By the 6:52 mark of the third quarter, Carl Tamayo had knotted the game at 67-all.

Five minutes later, the Philippines was already on top, 71-70, courtesy of two Dwight Ramos free throws.

2024-FIBA-OQT-Gilas-vs-Georgia-Chris-Newsome Gilas Men's resilience shines despite loss to Georgia, secure OQT-Riga semis berth 2024 Summer Olympics Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

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“They were down by 20, and that’s usually a time to panic. But they worked their way back into the game,” said Cone.

“We were down by 20 at various times, and with a little streak, we could have been down by 30 and using those tickets to go home. They really showed their resilience.”

All Gilas needed to do in the final frame was keep pace with the Crusaders, going shot for shot.

Down three with 14 seconds to go, Cone called for a timeout. He wanted to send the game into overtime before being advised not to by his staff.

“We were able to stay close, but we couldn’t go into overtime. We had the opportunity to shoot a three at the end to try to force overtime, but we didn’t want to give them a chance to extend the lead in overtime,” said Cone.

Disaster almost struck Gilas with two seconds left, though. Newsome intentionally split his free throws to close out the game.

However, Bitadze tried to dunk the missed free throw for an own basket to send the game into another five minutes. Fortunately, he miscalculated the attempt.

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“Still, Mamu missed a dunk on our end, and that’s bad coaching on my part. We should have told Newsome to hold the ball and not shoot that free throw to get a violation. That would have been the smart move. At the moment, I didn’t think about it,” said Cone.

2024-FIBA-OQT-Gilas-vs-Georgia-Justin-Brownlee Gilas Men's resilience shines despite loss to Georgia, secure OQT-Riga semis berth 2024 Summer Olympics Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

(c) FIBA.basketball

Justin Brownlee was once again spectacular for Gilas, dropping 28 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and a steal.

Dwight Ramos produced 16 points, five rebounds, and four assists, while CJ Perez and Chris Newsome chipped in 14 and 13 points respectively.

San Antonio big man Alexander Mamukelashvili led the way for Georgia with 26 points. Meanwhile, Bitadze, who plays for Orlando, scored 21.

Georgia, in an attempt to reach their quota to advance, attempted 35 triples in the game, only making 13.


The Scores:

Philippines 94 – Brownlee 28, Ramos 16, Perez 14, Newsome 13, Tamayo 7, Fajardo 6, Oftana 4, Sotto 4, Aguilar 2, Quiambao 0.

Georgia 96 – Mamukelashvili 26, Bitadze 21, Shengelia 17, Thomasson 14, Sanadze 13, Andronikashvili 5, Ochkhikidze 0, Korsantia 0, Londaridze 0, Jintcharadze 0.

Quarterscores: 17-28, 43-55, 74-74, 94-96.

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