In overtime, Angola plunges Gilas Pilipinas to the consolation rounds on the saddle of a third straight loss
FOSHAN, China—The setting was the same as five years ago, when Gilas Pilipinas returned to the World Cup for the first time in 40 years and left fans teary-eyed in Seville, Spain, after a gallant effort against an African team.
There was also an African nation in Angola at the other end of the floor for the Filipinos on Monday, and they were also dragged into overtime like in Seville and Filipino fans who made the trip to here also went home teary-eyed.
Some of the players, were, too.
Only this time, the result was the opposite as Gilas couldn’t hold it together in extension, dropping an 84-81 decision to the Angolans that left the Filipinos without a win in Group D while practically kissing their dream of outright Olympic qualification goodbye.
“This was more painful, because the first two games were expected losses,” national coach Yeng Guiao said. “We really felt that this was a very winnable game and we had our chances. We missed some key shots and didn’t get the breaks we needed in the end.”
Andray Blatche played his finest game here—23 points, 12 rebounds, four steals in more than 42 minutes—but he still couldn’t save the Filipinos from a horrid final two minutes.
The team flies out tomorrow for Beijing to play in the consolation pool where a match with either Puerto Rico and Renaldo Balkman—or even one against Iran depending on the quotient—awaits.
From here, Gilas will just try to improve on its world ranking, after coming to the World Cup as the 31st-ranked team in the globe. The Filipinos have a chance to come home ranked 24th at best.
“We’ve shown some improvements which we can use moving forward,” Guiao went on. “We will just have to keep on working.”
Rookie CJ Perez played his finest game as an international player, working together with Blatche to rally the Filipinos from an early 12-point deficit in the fourth period. He was also the one who necessitated overtime at 73-all with 33.1 seconds to play.
Perez, though, failed to even launch a decent attempt inside the final 5.2 seconds coming off a Gilas timeout, something which he owned up to later on.
“It was my decision [to kill time and eventually put up a three-pointer that had little chance],” he said. “Maybe I should have driven to the lane.”
Perez finished with 17 points and fellow rookie Robert Bolick added 10.
Joaquim Valdelicio paced the Angolans with 20 points, while Yanick Moreira finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds.
Without an outright berth as the top Asian team here, the Philippines’ hope for a slot in the Tokyo Olympics next year will have to go through the wringer of an intensive qualifying process, where Gilas will face other powerhouse countries that won’t get an Olympic berth here.