“And we showed the world what Filipino heart is capable of achieving”
Finally, after 36 years of waiting, Philippine National Basketball Team scores a win in the FIBA Basketball World Cup after defeating Senegal 81 – 79 Thursday September 4.
Led by Gilas Pilipinas team captain Jimmy Alapag who scored 18 points with 4 rebounds and 4 assists, Philippines ended their 2014 FIBA World Cup journey with 1 win and 4 loses. But before getting to this sweet victory, Gilas went through 3 heart breaking games which almost gave them their wins against Croatia (also went to an overtime), Argentina and Puerto Rico.
During the game, the team had the control of the 1st 3 quarters, leading Senegal to as much as 15 points. But the bigger guys from the African nation pulled off a run towards the end pushing Gilas to an overtime. During OT, it was see saw of momentum for the 2 teams, tying the scores in several occassions. But the valiant Gilas showed bigger hearts and determination to win even though they are playing an all Filipino line-up after Andray Blatche has been fouled out. They were able to pull some stops on Senegal’s run and scored crucial baskets to finished their last game in a positive note.
Other Gilas members who contributed to the historic win were Andray Blatche who scored 18 points, 14 rebounds and 1 assist. But the top performer of the night was Junemar Fajardo who contributed 15 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists with an efficiency mark of +20.
Gilas may have ended their FIBA journey without entering the next phase of the tournament, but they definitely left a mark in the basketball world that Filipinos are not easy to beat.