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FIBA OQT: Gilas Pilipinas Fall To Georgia, 94-96

(Photo by Dennis Jerome Acosta/Pacific Press) Credit: Pacific Press Media Production Corp./Alamy Live News

Gilas Pilipinas qualified for the semifinals of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Riga despite losing to Georgia 96-94 on Thursday. The team will face Brazil in the tournament semi-finals after securing the second spot out of Group A behind Latvia.

The loss follows a surprising upset win against world no. 6 Latvia just a day before, which put them in a strong position to advance to the next round. All Phillipines needed to do against Georgia was avoid losing by 36 points or more. All teams in Group A finished with 1 win and 1 loss, but Latvia and Philippines went through on point differential.

Gilas started off against Georgia extremely sluggish, letting their opponents get out to a 16-0 lead. The fact that Georgia has an extra day of rest could have had something to do with the horrid first quarter. Either way, the team only managed to score their first basket in the game with 4:50 remaining in the opening quarter. 

The Georgians would go on to lead by as much as 20 early on in the second but Philippines were able to claw back with a run of their own to end the quarter. They would then rally to take the third quarter handily, 31-19, which put the two teams level on 74 heading into the final frame.

The lead bounced back and forth in the fourth but Georgia came out with the 2 point win. Philippine kept the deficit low enough to progress to the final four, which was the team’s main goal going into the matchup. 

For Gilas, Justin Brownlee once again led the way with team-high tallies of 28 points, to go with eight rebounds and eight assists. Support came in the form of Dwight Ramos who had 16 points and five rebounds, Chris Newsome with 13 points and six assists and CJ Perez who led the bench scorers with 14 points. 

Kai Sotto who had a strong showing against Latvia, posting 18 points and nine rebounds, picked up an injury to his ribs which saw him sent to the hospital for further assessment.  

For Georgia, Alexander Mamukelashvili had an outstanding individual effort, scoring 26 points to keep his team ahead in the game. 

The Philippines will be confident that they can make a return to the Olympic men’s basketball tournament for the first time in 52 years.  They will however have a tough task ahead of them, facing off against South American giants Brazil in the semi-finals.

Philippines Vs Brazil Semi-Finals

After the completion of Group B play on Thursday evening, the semi finals will take place on Saturday, July 6, with the Philippines taking on Brazil at 8:30 pm, Manila time. The 12th ranked in the world, Brazil, ended up topping Group B despite a surprising upset loss to No. 68 Cameroon, 77-74. 

Much like Group A, Brazil, Cameroon, Montenegro each finished with identical 1-1 records after the group stage. The South American squad clinched the top seed with a superior point differential of +6. Cameroon secured the second seed with a -1 point differential, while Montenegro missed out with a differential of -5.

Brazil will be the third top 25 team that the Philippines will have faced in the OQT after going up against No. 6 Latvia and No. 23 Georgia in the group stage. While on paper Brazil are the superior team, Gilas has been playing some of their most inspired basketball in years, with Justin Brownlee putting up sensational numbers for his nation.

Expect a closely fought game which may go down to the final few minutes. The winner of the game will be awarded a place in the Paris Olympic games, which gives both teams everything to play for.

Whoever comes out of the semi final will go on to play the winner of the Cameroon vs Latvia game in the Final on Sunday.