FIBA 2014: Gilas Pilipinas scares Argentina, shows the world it belongs

When Gilas Pilipinas made it to the FIBA World Cup 2014 in Spain, you cannot blame other countries from making a quick judgment that they will be the whipping boys in their group, especially with powerhouses Croatia, Greece, and Argentina all with proven track record in international competition.

Philippines men's national basketball team Gilas Pilipinas
Philippines men's national basketball team Gilas Pilipinas

So it came as a shock to the world that Gilas Pilipinas put in a stellar performance against not just one but three teams first considered to be overmatched for the Filipinos.

Giving Croatia a taste of Philippine Basketkeball, #PUSO

Against a much taller Croatian squad, many were expecting Gilas Pilipinas to be blown out. However, Gilas Pilipinas had something up their sleeve. Behind Jeff Chan’s hot shooting and Andray Blatche’s solid game, the Filipinos put up a great performance. Chan had 17 points while Blatche had a double-double, posting 28 points and 12 rebounds.

The Croatians looked puzzled as it saw Gilas Pilipinas make shot after shot and ultimately forced an overtime. It wasn’t until the buzzer sounded before the Croatians were able to breathe a sigh of relief as they eked out an 81-78 win in OT. Nevertheless, the Filipinos appeared as the winners in a game they lost. They took a mighty Croatian team to the edge when nobody even gave them a chance in the beginning.

WATCH: Croatia v Philippines - Game Highlights - Group B - 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup (video)

Gilas Pilipinas stands tall in defeat against Greece

After taking Croatia to overtime, the Filipinos faced an even more formidable Greece team. Carrying the momentum they had from the previous game, the Filipinos put up a valiant effort as it tried to keep the game close.

However, the Greeks proved to be the more resilient team as it never gave up the lead from start to finish. Despite losing 82-70, Gilas Pilipinas showed that they can at least hold their own against stronger teams.

Blatche once again led the valiant charge for the Filipinos as he scored 21 points and hauled down 14 boards with 3 steals.

6-foot-9 Georgis Printezis top scored for the Greeks with 25 points and 8 rebounds. 7-foot-1 Giannis Bourousis had a solid game with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

WATCH: Philippines v Greece - Game Highlights - Group B - 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup (video)

Gilas Pilipinas scares Argentina before bowing out

After a close game against a taller Croatian team and only losing by a dozen points against world #5 Greece, Gilas Pilipinas was supposed to be tested against the world #3 Argentina. With NBA veterans Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni, and Pablo Prigioni at the helm, many expected the Argentines to bamboozle their way to victory.

Yet in another twist of event, Gilas Pilipinas once again showed their tenacity, hustle, and shooting. Behind Jayson Castro’s hot shooting, the Filipinos led after one quarter, 25-22. At one point, the Argentines were even facing a double digit deficit. It wasn’t until the 3rd quarter when Argentina finally broke loose and ended the 3rd with a 7-point lead.

In the fourth quarter, things began to heat up in the last 5 minutes as Jimmy Alapag drilled back-to-back threes to bring the lead down to four. The game was down to the wire before Jayson Castro William was forced into a travelling violation with 12 seconds left. After the turnover, the Filipinos fouled Andres Nocioni, putting him to the line. Nocioni, an NBA Veteran who played for the Bulls, Kings, and the 76ers in his NBA career, calmly sank both free throws to ice the game.

Luis Scola led the Argentines with 19 points and 7 rebounds. On the side of Gilas Pilipinas, Ranidel de Ocampo had 18 points while Blatche once again had a double-double with 14 points and 15 boards.

WATCH: Argentina v Philippines - Game Highlights - Group B - 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup (video)

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