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Historic Win: Philippines Defeats Latvia in FIBA Qualifiers

In men’s basketball, the Philippines has defeated a European team for the first time in 64 years. Group A of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament took place in Riga, Latvia, and early on Thursday morning, Gilas Pilipinas stunned host Latvia 89-80.

Coach Tim Cone of the Philippine squad expressed his surprise at the unexpected victory, while coach Luca Banchi of Latvia blamed his side’s failure to match the Filipinos’ disciplined and winning effort throughout the match.

“They were very sharp, they imposed not only their physicality, but also their sharpness to find a solution on offense,” Banchi remarked in the post-game interview, summarizing the Filipinos’ persistent effort. “I believe it was an excellent performance from the very beginning.” “Our opponent played a very good game, very solid.”

The valiant effort by the Philippines was spearheaded by naturalized Filipino player Justine Brownlee, who finished with outstanding all-around numbers of 26 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists to help the No. 37 Philippines shock the No. 6 ranked team in the world.

Arthurs Zagars, a guard, suffered an injury during his team’s lopsided victory over Georgia on Wednesday, which further compounded Latvia’s problems. In that game, Zagars had grabbed three rebounds, six assists, and eight points.

The team experienced a slight panic as a result of the game’s unfortunate poor start, according to Banchi, who is 58 years old. “We became rushed and when you see the numbers, you can understand.”

The team’s late-game comeback attempt was unsuccessful, according to Latvian forward Rodions Kurucs, who stated that they trailed by as much as 26 points due to poor execution from the outset.

Kurucs, who ended with 18 points and six rebounds, stated, “We let them play their game and they were responding. We didn’t execute our offense and didn’t do our job in defense, that was the initial focus.” “We didn’t make our shots and we lost our energy in defense, we were lacking.”

Coach Cone pointed out that although Latvia had plenty of opportunities to win the game, they were unable to convert key field goals, which gave the Philippines the advantage.

“It just turned out we got momentum and we just never really lost it,” Cone explained. “There were a couple of stretches where we kind of lost our way a little bit. But it just seemed like when Latvia was about ready to make a huge run at us, they would miss an open three-point shot. It was just one of those nights for Latvia. They just weren’t hitting shots tonight.”

Latvia won 1-1 to finish first in the group phase and move on to the semifinals.

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