FIBA OQT semis-bound Gilas’ comeback falls short against Georgia

Posted by watchmen
July 6, 2024
Posted in SPORTS


Gilas Pilipinas’ Justin Brownlee against Georgia in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. (FIBA photo)
Gilas Pilipinas’ Justin Brownlee against Georgia in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. (FIBA photo)

Gilas Pilipinas is headed into the 2024 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) semifinals.

This, despite the Tim Cone-coached squad falling short against Georgia, 96-94, at Arena Riga on Thursday night, July 4 (Philippine time).

Gilas holds the quotient advantage against Georgia, with the latter needing a 19-point lead against the Filipinos to punch their semis ticket, that is why Cone remained upbeat despite their loss.

“It’s the first time I felt good about losing,” said the Barangay Ginebra mentor after the game.

“But I just really wanna compliment our guys. They were down 20, and it could’ve been an easy panic, but they worked their way back into the game. Right into the fourth quarter, I guess we were tied or something like that, but we were down 20 at various points of the game.”

Leading the Philippines yet again was Justin Brownlee, with the multiple-time PBA champion reinforcement delivering 28 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and a steal.

Dwight Ramos was also stellar in their loss and posted 16 markers, five boards, four dimes, and two steals. CJ Perez did damage in the clutch and finished with 14 points, while Chris Newsome paced them with 13 points on top of six assists and four rebounds.

Down by three with under a minute left in the game after Perez’ triples got them back in the contest yet again, Brownlee hit a floater to get Gilas within one, 94-93, with only 33 ticks left in the game.

Goga Bitadze was then fouled on the next possession and iced his pair of foul shots to regain a three-point lead, while Newsome deliberately split his charities to avoid sending the game into overtime.

Bitadze even tried to score on their own basket in hopes of extending the game as they needed a 19-point win, but he missed his dunk attempt.

The NBA veteran finished with 21 markers, 11 rebounds and a pair of blocks for Georgia, who exited the OQT with a 1-1 record, while top scoring for them was Alexander Mamukelashvili, who had a 26-point, seven-board game, together with three assists.

Earlier, unlike their game against Latvia less than 24 hours ago, the nationals faltered in the first and suffered a 16-to-nothing start from Georgia after baskets from Bitadze and Joe Thomasson.

The Philippines trimmed the deficit down to eight a few minutes later as they picked themselves up, 25-17, but the world’s no. 23 squad regained their composure in between quarters and were able to balloon their lead to 20, 40-20.

Unfortunately, adding to Gilas’ woes was the exit of Kai Sotto, who was hit by Bitadze after he made a shot at the 6:42 mark of the second frame.

The Philippines managed to jumpstart a run after the incident and were able to trim the lead to six a few plays after, 47-41, but Sotto did not return to action as the game progressed.

Gilas got themselves back in the ball game in the third and got as close as five, 67-62, after a triple by Ramos off an assist by Brownlee, while a Carl Tamayo up-and-under on the following play further cut Georgia’s advantage to three.

They finally overtook their opponents, 71-70, after a pair of free throws made by Ramos, and both teams eventually entered the final canto at 74-all.

Gilas shifting to zone defense also allowed them to erase Georgia’s 20-point lead, and Cone lauded his troops especially since this was a rare call for the veteran coach to call.

Gilas will now wait for the conclusion of Group B’s elimination games, as they will face the second seed of that group in the semifinals which will start on Saturday, July 6. (ABS-CBN News)

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