Justin Brownlee-led Gilas stuns World No. 6 Latvia in Fiba Olympic qualifiers

Philippines secures shocking 89-80 win over Latvia
Justin Brownlee-led Gilas stuns World No. 6 Latvia in Fiba Olympic qualifiers
FIBA

Justin Brownlee once again proved to be Gilas Pilipinas' secret weapon, leading Gilas Pilipinas to a stunning 89-80 upset victory over world No. 6 Latvia in their debut game at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) 2024 in Riga on Thursday, July 4. This feat marked the Philippines' first triumph over a European team in FIBA competition since 1960.

Brownlee spearheaded the 11-member Gilas with 26 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists in 37 minutes of play. His six crucial points in the final moments significantly boosted Gilas' chances of advancing in the OQT.

Kai Sotto contributed 18 points and eight rebounds, complemented by Dwight Ramos with 12 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. June Mar Fajardo added 11 points, five boards, and three steals, while Chris Newsome chipped in 10 points and four rebounds.

Gilas head coach Tim Cone, in a live-streamed post-game press conference via the Fiba YouTube channel, said: "I'm totally shocked to be here after winning this basketball game. This is not something we thought we were going to do. I'll be honest with you, we wanted to come in and compete and put on a good show."

Cone acknowledged that his team sometimes lost momentum during the game, especially when it seemed like Latvia was poised to make a significant comeback. However, he noted that Latvia struggled with their three-point shooting throughout the night, which worked in their favor.

He credited his team's defensive effort, emphasizing their commitment to defending against every Latvia player on the court.

"I'll be honest I really am shocked to be here but we didn't come here to win one game, you know. We, hopefully, can move on and get to the next round and have a chance to maybe play Latvia again in the finals," Cone added.

Sotto expressed his satisfaction with Gilas Pilipinas' performance against Latvia, highlighting their rigorous preparation and respect for Latvia's talent.

"I think we just came out strong tonight and I mean we had some rough couple of minutes in the second half, but we just hung on, and we just believed in each other we just followed coach Tim," Sotto said. "I'm very blessed and very happy that we got the win tonight, no one got injured and I'm just happy that everyone contributed to the win."

Despite losing, Latvia secured a semifinal spot with an 83-55 victory over Georgia. Gilas can advance by defeating Georgia or losing by 18 points or fewer.

Gilas Pilipinas clashes against Georgia at 8:30 p.m. today. Georgia can advance only with a win over the Philippines by 19 points or more, according to Fiba rules. MLSA

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