Gilas Pilipinas achieved a remarkable upset victory over Latvia, keeping their Olympic dream alive
Gilas Pilipinas opened their Olympic Qualifying Tournament with a surprising 89-80 win over Latvia on Wednesday, putting them firmly in contention for a dream trip at the 2018 Paris Games.
Gilas Pilipinas achieved a remarkable upset victory over Latvia, keeping their Olympic dream alive
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"I'm totally shocked to be sitting here in front of you guys after winning this basketball game," coach Tim Cone said in his postgame news conference. "This is not something we thought we were going to do."

The Philippines established a commanding 32-16 lead in the first quarter and maintained their advantage throughout the game, finishing 21 points ahead as the final quarter ended.

 

Despite facing a tense fourth quarter where Latvia briefly outscored them 11-2, almost sparking a comeback, the Philippines managed to keep their composure. Even though they yielded the final period 24-12, they successfully launched their qualifying campaign with a perfect start.

 

This victory holds significant importance as it is the first time in 64 years that the Philippines has defeated a European team. The team aims to break a 52-year hiatus and return to the Olympic men's basketball tournament.

"Anytime you can get to the international arena and have success, that's a huge feather in your cap," Cone said. "This is a big huge step for us to be able to play a Latvia team at home, and go at them face-to-face, and come out with a win. It's amazing, it's amazing for us."

Justin Brownlee led the way for the Philippines with 26 points and nine rebounds, both team highs, while Kai Sotto added 18 and eight points.

Latvia presently ranks sixth in the FIBA world rankings, despite missing Boston Celtics player and NBA champion Kristaps Porziņģis due to injury.

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