Major upset: Gilas Pilipinas takes down world No. 6 Latvia in FIBA OQT

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas shocked the basketball world after defeating the world No. 6 Latvia, 89-80, at the opening of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) early Thursday morning (Manila time).

Gilas Pilipinas takes down world No. 6 Latvia in FIBA OQT
Justin Brownlee saved the day for the Philippines with a clutch four-point play. Photo courtesy: FIBA website

Entering the game, the European team is the clear favorite to win the match against Gilas.

But Gilas looks ready to fight against the bigger Latvia team. Justin Brownlee, Kai Sotto and Dwight Ramos guide and help the Gilas to get the win.

Brownlee nearly tallied a triple-double with 26 points 9 rebounds and 9 assists. Sotto also helped the Gilas and finished the game with 18 points and 8 rebounds.

Ramos also shows up for the Philippine team and contributes 12 points.

Because of the big win of Gilas, they are holding a good position to advance to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament semifinals.

This is also the first win of the Philippines against a European team in an official FIBA competition since 1960.

Meanwhile, for Sotto, Gilas enters the game strong and with the right mentality.

"I think we just came out strong. We came out with the right mentality. I think the biggest thing that we have to improve on is we have to give 40 minutes of our best basketball," Sotto said to BasketNews after the big win.

Sotto also shouted out the Pinoy basketball fans.

"Nothing but love and appreciation. I think everybody who watched, all the Filipino fans, it's all for you," he said.

After a big win against Latvia, the next game of Gilas Pilipinas is against Georgia, July 4, 8:30 pm (Philippine time).

The top two teams in each of the two groups in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament will advance to the semifinals and then final with only one team having the chance to book a ticket to the Paris Olympics.

The winners of each Olympic Qualifying Tournament will join the teams that have already qualified for Paris Olympics 2024, these are USA, France, Canada, Australia, South Sudan, Japan, Serbia and Germany.

— Carl Santiago, The Summit Express

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