Jul 04, 2024

Gilas takes on Georgia for semis seat in OQT

GILAS Pilipinas goes for an outright semifinals berth in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament Thursday night (Manila time), hoping to realize the goal with a win over Georgia at the Riga Arena in Latvia.

The Filipinos will go to the 8:30 p.m. match with its morale over the ceiling following a gigantic upset of the host team early Thursday morning, 89-80.

The stunner over the sixth-ranked team in the world put Gilas on top of Group A with a 1-0 slate and in a perfect position to clinch one of two berths at stake to advance in the crossover semifinals.

While the win was truly a huge one for Philippine basketball, coach Tim Cone cautioned the team about moving on and concentrate on the next task at hand.

"We have to turn around and play Georgia. Our country's going to expect us, especially after the win (over Latvia). They're going to expect us to win. It's gonna be a really tough job for us to beat Georgia," said Cone during the post-game presser.

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Georgia has two NBA players in its roster in Goga Bitadze of the Orlando Magic and Alexander Mamukelashvili of the San Antonio Spurs.

A win by Gilas over Georgia, ranked 23rd in the world, will clinch for it the top spot in Group A and arrange a semifinal clash with the second-ranked team in Group B, which could either one of the three in Brazil, Montenegro, and Cameroon.

Even a Gilas loss at least by not more than 18 points would still allow the Filipinos to advance as Georgia's huge 83-55 rout at the hands of Latvia on opening night certainly hurt its cause.

Gilas enjoys a better point difference of +9 compared to Georgia's -28.

Again Cone stressed the importance of Gilas keeping its head above water.

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"Whenever you win a game, the expectations go up so then you have to keep chasing the expectations," said the Gilas coach. "Hopefully, we won't feel that and hopefully, we can get that communicated to our team that we can't play the expectations. We just play the way we can play."(RG)