Gilas Pilipinas stuns global No. 6 Latvia to open Fiba OQT bid



Justin Brownlee Gilas Pilipinas Fiba OQT Paris Olympics basketball

Justin Brownlee leads Gilas Pilipinas’ rout of host Latvia to open the Filipinos’ Fiba OQT marketing campaign. –FIBA PHOTO

SCHEDULE: Gilas Pilipinas at Fiba OQT in Riga, Latvia

Gilas Pilipinas pounced on Latvia’s early capturing woes and performed with steely nerves down the stretch to topple International No. 6 and host Latvia, 89-80, within the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Match (OQT) on Thursday.

The No. 37-ranked Filipinos, overwhelming underdogs within the quick meet at Enviornment Riga that can ship a winner to the Paris Olympics, raced to an 8-0 get started and constructed a large cushion that they by no means yielded till the overall horn.

“I’m completely surprised to be sitting in entrance of you guys after profitable this basketball recreation. This isn’t one thing we concept we had been gonna do, I’ll be fair with you,” mentioned Gilas trainer Tim Cone after the Philippines beat a Ecu workforce for the primary time in 64 years.

“We would have liked to come back in and compete and actually placed on a just right display. We were given began early. We hit photographs early. And fortunately Latvia overlooked photographs.”

Naturalized ace Justin Brownlee delivered a close to triple-double of 26 issues, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists, whilst younger cornerstones Kai Sotto and Dwight Ramos tossed in 18 and 11 issues, respectively, for a triumph that were given Gilas’ marketing campaign off to a rousing get started.

READ: Tim Cone dismisses perception that Gilas now not large, speedy, sturdy sufficient

Barring a large blowout by the hands of International No. 23 Georgia, the Philippines is on target to advance to the crossover knockout section which might pit the Filipinos towards Cameroon, Brazil or Montenegro.

Chris Newsome scored 10 issues, together with a few overdue baskets within the ultimate length that saved the Latvians at bay with the effects considerably shaking up the Staff A race.

Gilas Pilipinas' Kai Sotto among the top performers against Latvia in the Fiba OQT.

Gilas Pilipinas’ Kai Sotto some of the best performers towards Latvia within the Fiba OQT. –FIBA BASKETBALL

The Latvians, having gained 24 in their final 27 Fiba video games, had been projected to comb the preliminaries, however struggled towards a made up our minds Gilas aspect and dropped to 1-1 within the OQT.

It additionally didn’t lend a hand the hosts that their out of doors capturing deserted them simply because the Filipinos hit theirs. Latvia was once 10-for-42 whilst Gilas wound up 9-of-20 from deep.

“There have been a few stretches, like Kai mentioned, that we more or less misplaced our approach a bit of bit however it kind of feels like when Latvia was once with reference to in a position to make massive run at us, they might omit an open three-point shot,” Cone mentioned.

“And that’s simply a type of night time for Latvia—they only gained’t hit photographs this night.”

Rodions Kurucs and Rolands Smits joined fingers for a last-ditch effort for the Latvians, however the Gilas cushion—which swelled to as large as 26 issues—proved too large to overtake.

READ: Tim Cone ‘now not happy’ till Gilas reaches optimum FIBA OQT shape

Kurucs had 18 issues, Davis Bertans, Kristers Zoriks and Janis Strelnieks 10 each and every whilst Smits had 9 within the Latvian effort that left many in the house crowd in disbelief.

Gilas and Georgia tangle in 18 hours (8:30 p.m. Manila time) on the similar venue.

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