one triumph after heartbreaking losses signifies hope.
SEVILLE, Spain – A thousand thrills for all the pain and despair it suffered from one overtime to another.
Gilas Pilipinas pulled off an 81-79 victory in another extra period over Senegal, snatching its first win that more than made up for all the frustration triggered by its first overtime loss to Croatia.
The Filipinos rode on the shoulder of skipper Jimmy Alapag who carried the fight for the team when everything seemed lost as naturalized player Andray Blatche fouled out with 1:55 left to play.
It was a sweet victory for Gilas, snaring the win in its last game against a scrappy FIBA Africa qualifier behind the diminutive man who stood tall and embellished his final game in international competition with the historic triumph.
“There’s so much energy from the millions of Filipinos all over the world, and we offer this victory to them. All our kababayans around the world deserve this win. It’s a big honor to be part of the team,” said Alapag.
The 33-year-old Alapag made a tremendous exit from the national team with his late-game heroics that kept the team intact in the face of an impending collapse, wrapping up the victory with steady free throw shooting.
What an escape. When Filipino fans all over expected the same agonizing windup suffered at the hands of Croatia, Argentina and Puerto Rico, Alapag showed a heart of steel to clinch the win that affirmed that the Filipinos belong among the world’s elite.
“We’d shown that we belong, we’d shown that we can compete. Now we’ve shown we can win,” said national coach Chot Reyes.
“From the start, we knew our best chance to win is against Senegal. We became a victim of our success with our near upsets (against powerhouse teams Croatia, Greece and Puerto Rico),” said Reyes.
In the weeklong group competition, the Filipinos showed it could stay with the established basketball powers in the world, beginning with their blown overtime game against Croatia that shocked the rest of the group.
Thus the Nationals, which were given two chances – slim and none – to win, will come home with their morale high, a few days before going to Incheon, Korea for the Asian Games. Continue reading
“I noticed in the end game, the team struggled because there was no experienced player to make the right decisions,” said Dardalis. “Now, the world is realizing that Filipinos play good basketball. Filipinos play to their advantage. They use quickness, good outside shooting. But in the international game, experience is a big factor.” The Philippines hadn’t played at the FIBA World Cup since 1978 and it showed in the way Gilas faltered down the stretch in close losses to Croatia in overtime, Argentina and Puerto Rico.”
Foreign media awed by Gilas by Joaquin Henson