Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr proud of gallant Gilas Pilipinas in FIBA Olympic qualifiers

2024 July 7

GALLANT PERFORMANCE. The Gilas Pilipinas national basketball team in a huddle during its semifinal match against Brazil in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Riga, Latvia on Saturday (July 6, 2024). President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. lauded the team’s stellar performance despite failing to qualify for the Paris Games as Brazil won, 71-60. (FIBA photo)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. expressed admiration for Gilas Pilipinas’ gallant showing in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Latvia.

As 37th-ranked in the world, Gilas ended its inspired OQT run in the semifinals on Saturday, falling to Brazil 60-71 and falling short in its bid to end the Philippines’ over five-decade absence in Olympic basketballt.

Despite the loss, Marcos lauded the stellar performance of the national team.

“It was a great fight, Gilas Pilipinas! You have made us Filipinos proud and made history!” the President said in a social media post late Saturday night.

“We will always stand behind you in support. Bida ang bayaning manlalaro (The hero athlete is a star),” he added.

Gilas even led in the first half, 33-27, before the world No. 12 Brazil unleashed a strong 24-6 performance in the third quarter to grab the lead, 51-39.

The Filipinos, who missed 7-foot-2 Kai Sotto due to a bruised rib sustained during the previous match against Georgia, tried to crawl back  but the Brazilians repelled their attempts.

Brazil and Latvia will dispute the Olympic slot on Monday.

Gilas entered the seminal round as second seed in its group after defeating world No. 6 Latvia,  89-80, on July 4 and getting a superior quotient over Georgia. 

Meanwhile, Latvia pulled off a 72-59 win over Cameroon before a sold-out crowd early Sunday (PH time).

Rihards Lomazs paced the Latvians with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists.

“We did an amazing effort tonight because it was clear for everybody the gap on the court in terms of physicality and athleticism. Everybody was able to spend his best effort trying to go over the limit,” Latvia coach Luca Banchi said.

Despite the loss, Cameroon coach Alfred Aboya is proud of his team.

“I think that during this tournament they showed that Cameroon basketball is back. The kids competed at a high level. The future is bright for Cameroon basketball,” Aboya said.

Williams Narace topscored for Cameroon with 14 points and pulled down five rebounds.

Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez praised Gilas Pilipinas, coach Tim Cone and the entire coaching staff for demonstrating unparalleled determination, skill and heart on the international stage.

“The journey of Gilas Pilipinas in this tournament has been nothing short of inspirational. The victory against Latvia, a European team, was a historic moment for Philippine basketball and a testament to the team’s resilience and capability,” Romualdez said in a statement.

“These games have shown that with perseverance, strategic play and unity, we can hold our own against higher-ranked opponents,” he added. “Let us continue to support and celebrate our athletes, as they embody the spirit of Filipino resilience and excellence.”

Darryl John Esguerra (PNA)