NO. 34-ranked Gilas Pilipinas gave World No. 3 Argentina a scare but failed to keep momentum, losing 81-85, for its third straight defeat in Group B phase of the 2014 Fiba World Cup in Seville, Spain late Monday night, Philippine time.
Nevertheless, the Philippines' impressive performances the past three games, including those against Croatia and Greece, earned the country respect in the world of basketball.
US-based Ronel Leuterio, who mentored The Royal Mandaya Hotel-City Mayor's Office (TRMH-CMO) squad in the Mayor Rody and Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte 29th Kadayawan Commercial Basketball Tournament last month, said the clash against the Argentines is "one game that all Filipinos should be proud of."
The seasoned coach also said, "It's hard fought to the very end. Every game we played gave the world a glimpse of how good Philippine basketball is. All three games we played so far were against European powerhouses and we've given ourselves a performance not only worthy of respect but admiration as well."
The Vincent "Chot" Reyes-coached Gilas fell to mighty Greece, 70-82, after a tight 78-81 overtime loss to Croatia in the opener.
"We're already playing beyond expectations but if we could improve on end game executions that should be the answer to these close games," Leuterio said in a Facebook chat conversation on Tuesday.
The Filipinos got a day's break Tuesday before they try to keep their quarter-finals hopes alive when they collide with Puerto Rico at 7:30 p.m. (Philippine time) today (September 3) and take on Senegal at 8 p.m. tomorrow (September 4, Philippine time). Both games will be aired live over TV5.
"It's a winnable game against Puerto Rico. Against Senegal, that should be the game that would eventually put us in the basketball world map," Leuterio said.
Argentina's roster of players had an average height of 6'9 while Philippines' average height of its players is only 6'3. No matter how smaller the Gilas are in height and heft, Leuterio said, "They have the biggest heart."
It's also interesting to note that being less experienced in the World Cup, Philippines managed to only lose an average of 6.33 points in its last three games.