MANILA – The Filipino dream of making it to the second round of eliminations ended last night when the national team bowed to FIBA America’s runner-up Puerto Rico, 77-73, in another epic performance during the FIBA World Cup 2014.
Gilas went off to a rousing start and dictated the pace in the first round, only to topple in the end. No thanks to Jose Barea’s 10-point explosion during the dying minutes of the last canto and on crucial errors that cost them vital points.
The Philippines currently holds 0-4 win-loss card, eliminating them from the next set of games in Madrid and Barcelona. They aim to get their first win against the Senegal national team on Thursday, 2 p.m.
“In the second half, we’re right there but we kept turning the ball over and couldn’t make the shots in the end,” shared Gilas coach Chot Reyes. “We have the skills to play at this level but we don’t have the experience to win,” Reyes also said moments after the loss as frustrating and disappointing as their defeats at the hands of Croatia and Argentina.
Before Barea took over the game, Gilas still holds a precarious three-point lead, 70-67. Center Ricky Sanchez and David Huertas chipped in 13 points for the Puerto Ricans.
“First of all, I’d like to commend Gilas. They’re a great team. They have small guards who can make shots like me,” said Barea referring to Gilas guards LA Tenorio, Jimmy Alapag, and Jayson Castro.
According to Coach Paco Olmos of Puerto Rico, the key was allowing Andray Blatche to score while clamping down the other members of the Gilas.
Gilas was limited to only two three-pointers in the last 27 minutes of the game. The last one was made by Blatche from a loose ball possession to give the team 70-67 lead.
The Gilas never recovered from there.
Tenorio upped the team’s performance when they took on the first quarter at 25-13 before settling for a 44-39 lead at halftime.
To give due credit, the Puerto Ricans cut the deficit by leveraging on the crucial errors of the Gilas towards the end of the second quarter.