Gallant Gilas falls

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Saturday, August 30, 2014


MANILA - The Philippines marked its return to the world stage with a valiant, 81-78, overtime loss to Croatia in Group B of the Fiba World Cup in Spain.

Croatia, ranked No. 16 in the world to the Philippines’ No. 34, needed a five-minute extension before escaping with the overtime victory at the 7,127-seater Palacio Municipal de Deposrtes in Seville, Spain that had a dominantly pro-Filipino crowd.

Jason Castro scored on a drive with only 39 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at 71, while Jeff Chan missed a potential game-wnning trey, to send the match to extension.

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The much taller Croatians went on to outscore the Filipino squads, 10-7, in the overtime period to start their campaign on a high note.

Naturalized former Brooklyn Nets center Andray Blatche scored all of the Filipino team’s seven points in the overtime period in the game, including a last-ditch trey that got the Philippines closer, 79-79, with less than seven seconds left to play.

Castro also got a last-second three-pointer that hit off the backboard and the replay showed that he was fouled while taking the shot.

Earlier, the Filipino dribblers were down by as much as 14 points, 23-9, in the first canto. But as soon as Jimmy Alapag connected a triple, Gilas Pilipinas weathered a big run to tie the game for the first time, 64-64, on Blatche’s triple with 3:15 remaining in the third period.

Chan scored three points from the free throw line to move the Philippines on top for the first time, 67-66, still 2:49 to go.
Blatche finished the match with 28 points in 41 minutes of action. He made 3 of 4 three-point shots and also grabbed 12 rebounds. JEff Chan had 17 and was 4 of 6 from the three-point area, while Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo combined for 11 points.

The Philippines will next face Greece on Sunday at 2 a.m. and coach Chot Reyes hopes to bounce back after the heartbreaking setback in the opening day. (FCC)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 31, 2014.

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