For two days, the Philippine National Men’s Basketball Team gave their all against formidable opponents in the FIBA 2016 Olympic Qualifier. Held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, the Gilas participated, along with Canada, France, New Zealand, Senegal, and Turkey.
This evening, the Gilas faced off against New Zealand. Valiant efforts by Blatche (who finished with 30 points) and Jayson Castro (who scored 13) proved insufficient to overcome a slow start in the first half of the game, and the Gilas fell, 80-89.
The packed MOA Arena crowd was emotional as they saw their heroes’ Olympic dreams dashed. To the end, the Gilas tried to rally, but were unable to overcome the Tall Blacks, whose Tai Webster dominated both sides of the hard court and finished the night with 25 points.
Throughout the tournament, the Gilas put on a world-class performance, as seen in their game yesterday against the #5 FIBA-ranked team, France. Terrence Romeo and Andray Blatche led the charge, scoring 19 and 21 points, respectively, but in the second quarter leading to the second half, France’s Tony Parker (who plays for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs’) was able to rally a comeback that overcome the Gilas’ early double digit lead.
The fighting spirit of the Pinoys did not go unrecognized; following their match, 4-time NBA Champion Parker told reporters, “First of all, I wanna congratulate the Philippines. They had a great game. They were on fire in the first half. They played with a lot of energy and you have to give a lot of credit to them…you can’t be prouder about the team. They played a great game. They made it tough on us. We had to dig deep to try and get the win.”
Following the loss to New Zealand, media outlets and fans alike thanked the team for their service, including PlayPH. When all was said and done, our team did their best. And for that, we salute them. Thank you, Gilas, for stepping up to the challenge, and for showing the world your Heart on Fire.