Gilas Pilipinas drops close loss to Georgia but still marches on to FIBA OQT semis

Delfin Dioquino

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Gilas Pilipinas drops close loss to Georgia but still marches on to FIBA OQT semis

DROP PASS. Justin Brownlee in action for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2024 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.


Gilas Pilipinas finishes second in Group A to stay on track of ending a decades-long absence in Olympic basketball

MANILA, Philippines – It was a loss that somehow felt very much like a win.

Gilas Pilipinas secured its place in the semifinals of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Riga, Latvia, despite a 96-94 defeat to Georgia on Thursday, July 4.

Gilas Pilipinas drops close loss to Georgia but still marches on to FIBA OQT semis

Coming off an upset of world No. 6 Latvia, the Philippines finished second in Group A with a 1-1 card to stay on track of ending a decades-long absence in Olympic basketball since it last competed in the 1972 Munich Games.

Justin Brownlee put the team on his back anew with 28 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists as the Nationals shook off a rusty start that saw them trail by as many as 20 points to join top seed Latvia in the final four.

Georgia, dealt an 83-55 beating from Latvia, needed to win by at least 19 points to advance to the semifinals, but the Philippines fought back thanks to steady performances from CJ Perez, Dwight Ramos, and Chris Newsome.

Ramos churned out 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists, Perez fired 14 points on a perfect 6-of-6 clip off the bench, and Newsome chimed in 13 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds.

Also toting a 1-1 record, Georgia forged a three-way tie in Group A, but Latvia and the Philippines reached the knockout stage owing to their superior point differential. 

“I just really want to compliment our guys, they went down 20 and it could have been an easy panic time,” said Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tim Cone. “They worked their way back into the game.”

“They really showed their resilience.”

Down 93-96 with 14 seconds remaining, the Filipinos were within striking distance to force overtime, but they opted for a loss to deny the Georgians a chance to pad their lead in the extra period.

In a bizarre end, Newsome made the first of his two free throws then intentionally missed the second in a bid to run out the clock only to witness Goga Bitadze try to make an own goal.

Bitadze, however, saw his attempt clank off the rim.

“We had an opportunity to shoot a three at the end to try to get this into overtime, but we just felt we did not want to give them an opportunity to try to extend the lead into overtime,” said Cone.

Getting a much-needed break after playing two games on back-to-back days, the Philippines prepares for another war against the top seed from Group B, which is composed of Brazil, Montenegro, and Cameroon.

Bitadze, who plays for the Orlando Magic, tallied 21 points and 11 rebounds, while fellow NBA player Sandro Mamukelashvili of the San Antonio Spurs posted 26 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 steals in the win.

The Scores

Georgia 96 – Mamukelashvili 26, Bitadze 21, Shengelia 17, Thomasson 14, Sanadze 13, Andronikashvili 5, Jintcharadze 0, Korsantia 0, Ochikhikidze 0, Londaridze 0.

Philippines 94 – Brownlee 28, Ramos 16, Perez 14, Newsome 13, Tamayo 7, Fajardo 6, Sotto 4, Oftana 4, Aguilar 2, Quiambao 0.

Quarters: 28-17, 55-43, 74-74, 96-94.


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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.