Gilas Pilipinas pushes Argentina to the limit
SEVILLE, Spain (UPDATED) – Gilas Pilipinas suffered another heartbreaker, this time pushing world no. 3 Argentina to the limit before falling short in the final seconds in the FIBA World Cup of Basketball at the Palacio Municipal de Deportes San Pablo in Spain Monday night.
Argentina won, 85-81, but the Filipinos again gained the respect of their opponents after repeatedly threatening an upset win over the high rated South Americans.
Jimmy Alapag had his biggest game in the tournament, knocking down 5 of 7 3-point attempts to finish with 15 points. Ranidel De Ocampo also nailed 4 other triples for a total score of 18 points.
The Philippines got off a great start, moving the ball effectively and baffling Argentina with fluid rotation in the opening quarter.
Two successive putbacks by Andray Blatche quickly put Gilas ahead, 4-0. De Ocampo and Jayson Castro started raining threes to widen the gap to 17-7.
Blatche was later benched after picking two fouls, but this didn't stop the Filipinos from doing damage as they closed the quarter with a 25-22 lead.
Argentina began making its push in the 2nd quarter, with Pablo Prigioni connecting from the outside, even as Marc Pingris and De Ocampo bought some baskets for Gilas.
A triple by Marcos Mata finally put Argentina ahead, 38-36, and the South Americans kept their lead until the end of the half, 43-38.
A limping Blatche returned to the game and the Argentines took advantage. Scola, Mata, and Prigioni took turns at the basket to pull away, 68-53.
Alapag woke Gilas with successive boomers to make it a 9-point game for Gilas, 68-59, but Mata fired back with threes of his own. A finger roll layup by Blatche cut Argentina's lead to 71-61.
Incursions by Gilas in the fourth capped by Alapag's triple pulled the nationals closer, 66-71. De Ocampo rifled another on top of the key to further cut the deficit to 69-71.
Argentina refused to let to of the lead and connected on several triples again.
Norwood scored on a slasher. Alapag followed it up from beyond the arc to chop the deficit to 76-79 midway the payoff period.
Back-to-back plays by Blatche and Alapag later pulled the Nationals within a point, 81-82, with 1:58 to go.
However, Pingris made a costly foul on Andres Nocioni, who split his free throws to make it 83-81 with 40 seconds to go.
Coach Chot Reyes drew a play for Castro, who was called for a double dribble after he was well-covered by an Argentine defender.
Nocioni settled the final score via the free throw line.
Gilas also lost its first two games against Croatia and Greece.
The nationals engaged the Croats in a thrilling exchange before settling for a 78-81 verdict. They also yielded a 70-82 loss against the Greeks.