IT'S another dark day for the Philippines as the three-on-three basketball absorbed a heart-wrenching setback Tuesday against Spain, 27-29, in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

The young basketball squad composed of Bobby Ray Parks, Jr., Jeron Teng, Cris Michael Tolomia and Michael Pate, however, did not throw the white towel as the team reversed an early 8-11 deficit by tying the knot twice, 11-11 and 16-16.

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The Philippines even posted a 21-20 lead late in the game before the Spanish squad of Luis Costa, Mikel Motos, Javier Medori and Francesco Pascual came through to crush the hopes of the Filipino dribblers.

RP chief of mission and aquatics Chief Mark Joseph, however, blamed the setback to poor officiating.

“Spain won by two points but lousy referees did not count two shots of ours but our guys did great,” said Joseph.

The Philippines lost to a taller US Virgin Island squad on Monday, 28-34, on the back of Kadeem Jones and Rasheed Swanton who combined for 24 markers.

With the loss, the country needs to win its last two games against title contender Croatia on Wednesday and South Africa on Thursday to join the quarterfinal phase.

Teng, son of former PBA star Alvin Teng and brother of UST star Jeric Teng, topscored for RP with 15 points while the 6-foot-5 Parks, son of many-time PBA best import Bobby Parks, Sr. contributed 10 markers.

The Filipinos had a discouraging start in the first two days of competition as netter Jeson Patrombon, taekwondo jin Kirk Barbosa and tankers Jessie Lacuna and Jasmine Alkhaldi all fell by the wayside.

But there is still hope for the nine-man delegation as Alkhaldi plunges in the 200m free today (Wednesday) and then in the in the 50m free on Thursday while Lacuna sees action in the 200m fly on Friday.

Patricia Llena, the country’s flag bearer, is currently shooting for a medal in the 63-kilogram class of weightlifting of at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall.

Llena is touted as one of the country’s best chances to medal following her performance in Asian Weightlifting Championship in Dubai where she snared three silver medals.

She also participated in Junior Weightlifting Championship in Tashkent, Uzbekistan this year.

The 16-year-old nursing student will face tough opposition from Russia, Turkey, United States, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Australia and Mexico. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)