Gallant Gilas takes Croats to overtime before losing | Inquirer Sports

Gallant Gilas takes Croats to overtime before losing

By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 04:07 AM August 31, 2014


SEVILLE, Spain—A Gilas Pilipinas side terribly wanting in size but doggedly determined to prove that it belongs went down in its first Fiba World Cup game in almost four decades on Saturday afternoon but not after gaining a lot of respect in giving Croatia a gigantic scare.

On the short end of a bum call late in the third and after flubbing a chance to win it all in regulation, the Filipinos took a painful 81-78 overtime loss to the Croats.


A critical five-point swing just before the third quarter buzzer because of a questionable technical foul called on Jason Castro helped doom the Filipinos’ bid in Group B of the biggest basketball event on the planet that got off in earnest at Centro Deportivo San Pablo here.


Trailing 49-52, the referee slapped Castro with a technical supposedly for flopping, resulting in two free throws and possession, which the Croats converted into a three-pointer that had the Philippines trailing, 57-49, going into the fourth.

5-10 guarding 6-5

But the Filipinos persevered, tugging at the coattails of the NBA veterans-laden Croatia crew and having a chance to win before Jeff Chan muffed a long jumper that forced the extension at 71-all.

“The ref called a technical foul that I couldn’t believe [near the end of the third quarter], an obviously dejected Gilas coach Chot Reyes told reporters. “He (referee) said Jason was flopping. The guy (Castro) is 5-10 and he is guarding a 6-5, how can that be flopping?”

“That’s five points and that’s the difference in the game. If not for that technical foul, we could have won the game. It wouldn’t have gone into overtime.”

Gilas Pilipinas came into this event not expecting much, with Reyes even saying months before that his intrepid bunch had a slim-to-nothing chance at winning.


16th-ranked team

But after their performance against the 16th-ranked team in the world, the Filipinos have certainly shown everyone that they deserve to be here and that advancing past group play now looms as a distinct possibility.

Andray Blatche scored 28 points and had 12 rebounds in his first official game as a naturalized Filipino. He drilled a three-pointer that had the Philippines coming to within 78-79 with eight seconds left, only for starting guard Damjan Rudez to can two free throws two ticks later off a Chan foul.

Bojan Bogdanovic, a former teammate of Blatche with the Brooklyn Nets, also canned some crucial free throws in the end. He paced the Croats with 26 points.

Ante Tomic, Croatia’s 7-foot-1 center, had 11 rebounds and eight points, with Krunoslav Simon, who canned the technical free throws off Castro, shooting 12 and grabbing seven rebounds.

‘We kept on fighting’

“We just kept on fighting. We knew Croatia was tough but the players fought all the way,” Reyes said.

The Filipinos try to lick their wounds and come in better prepared as they clash with Greece at 8 p.m. on Sunday (2 a.m. on Monday in Manila) before battling former champion Argentina on Monday.

“This is for the Filipinos,” said Jimmy Alapag, a long-time internationalist who will retire from the Philippine team after this tournament. “We are going to be better tomorrow [against the Greeks].”

Chan wound up with 17 points built around four triples and Marc Pingris contributed 10.

The scores:

CROATIA 81—Bogdanovic 26, Simon 12, Saric 10, Tomic 8, Ukic 5, Lafayette 4, Rudez 4, Zoric 4, Babic 3.

GILAS PILIPINAS 78—Blatche 28, Chan 17, Pingris 10, Castro 6, De Ocampo 5, Alapag 4, Tenorio 2, Norwood 2, Lee 2, Fajardo 2, Aguilar 0.

Quarters: 23-9, 37-31, 57-49, 71-all (reg), 81-78 (OT).


Gilas Pilipinas more confident now, says Blatche

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Croatia survives thriller against Gilas in FIBA World Cup

TAGS: 2014 Fiba, 2014 Fiba World Cup, Andray Blatche, Chot Reyes, Croatia, FIBA, Fiba World Cup, Gilas Pilipinas, Jason Castro, Seville, Spain

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