Jul 06, 2024

Olympic dream ends as Gilas Pilipinas bows to Brazil

THE Philippines' bid for a berth in the Paris Olympics ended on Saturday, shattered by a 71-60 loss to Brazil in the semifinals of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Riga, Latvia.

The Brazilians went on a huge scoring tear in the third quarter when they outscored Gilas in the first six minutes of play, 14-0, to take a 41-33 lead.

The world no. 12 ranked team made it a 17-2 run before ending the quarter fully in control at 51-39.

The Filipinos, who played without young big man Kai Sotto (rib injury), tried to make a final stand in the last 10 minutes, but turnovers and Brazil's defense stymied whatever fight was left for the team.

Before that game-changing run, Gilas controlled the tempo of the game and led by as many 12 points.

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The Philippines led 33-27 at the break.

"After having the halftime lead and coming out, and then going on a 12-0 or 14-0 run to start the third quarter, was painful to watch," admitted Gilas coach Tim Cone. "There's a reason Brazil is the 12th ranked team in the world and they proved it tonight."

The loss put an end to what had been an impressive run by Gilas Pilipinas, which kicked off its campaign with a gigantic upset of world no. 6 Latvia, 89-80, in its opening game.

Although the Filipinos lost their next game against Georgia, 96-94, the losing margin wasn't enough to prevent Gilas from marching on and a date with the Brazilians in the semifinals.

Former NBA player Bruno Caboclo finished with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds for Brazil, while another NBA veteran in Marcelinho Huertas added 13 including timely baskets in the fourth quarter that kept the rallying Filipinos at bay.

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Brazil will now play the winner of the other semis match between host Latvia and Cameroon for a ticket to the Paris Games.

Justin Brownlee led Gilas Pilipinas with 15 points, but was shot down in the second half by Brazil's stifling defense that held the 36-year-old naturalized player to just three points.

Dwight Ramos also cooled down in the second half and finished with 13 points, while June Mar Fajardo had to work double time in the absence of the 7-foot-3 Sotto, and added 10 points and 11 rebounds.

"We don't want to make excuses, but losing Kai (Sotto) was big for us because it just took away our depth in the frontline and forced June Mar Fajardo to have to overplay minutes and that kind of all mushroomed it right there," said Cone.

"But bottomline is we just weren't good enough tonight and we gotta be better." (RG)

The scores:

Brazil (71) -- Caboclo 15, Huertas 13, Dias 10, De Paula 8, Santos 8, Meindl 7, Louzada 3, Santos 3, Benite 2, Felicio 2.

Philippines (60) -- Brownlee 15, Ramos 13, Fajardo 10, Perez 10, Newsome 5, Aguilar 4, Tamayo 3, Quiambao 0.

Quarterscores: 12-22; 27-33; 51-39; 71-60.