Georgia and Gilas square off in the OQT semifinals

Jul 5, 2024

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MANILA, Philippines – GILAS Pilipinas will play Georgia at the Riga Arena in Latvia on Thursday night (Manila time) in an attempt to earn an automatic berth in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament semifinals.

Filipinos arrive about 8:30 p.m. Arriving full of confidence following an incredible Thursday morning 89-80 victory over the host team, Latvia. Gilas is now in a solid position with a 1-0 record and the opportunity to claim one of the two slots available to move on to the crossover semi finals thanks to this surprising victory.

For Philippine basketball, the victory over Latvia—the sixth-ranked team in the world—was a significant accomplishment. Coach Tim Cone, nevertheless, has advised the group to focus on the forthcoming battle against Georgia and put their recent victory aside. “The win was significant, but we need to stay focused on what’s next,” Cone said.

In addition to guaranteeing Gilas’ spot in the semifinals, a win over Georgia would provide them more momentum as they move through the competition. The squad has to keep up their remarkable run, and they need to be focused and intense. The stakes are enormous.

The Filipinos are ready to prove their tenacity and talent once more as the game draws near, hoping to further establish Philippine basketball as a major player on the global scene. Support from their country is still strong, and supporters are looking forward to Gilas Pilipinas giving another outstanding performance.

Coach Tim Cone said at the news conference after their most recent game, “We have to turn around and play Georgia. Our country’s going to expect us, especially after the win over Latvia. They’re going to expect us to win. It’s going to be a really tough job for us to beat Georgia.”

With two NBA players on Georgia’s roster—Alexander Mamukelashvili of the San Antonio Spurs and Goga Bitadze of the Orlando Magic—the job ahead of Gilas Pilipinas is difficult. The Filipinos now face an even greater task as a result of their arrival; they must use their recent momentum to defeat a formidable foe.

Gilas would be guaranteed the top spot in Group A if they defeated the 23rd-ranked Georgia team. This would force them to play the second-placed team from Group B in the semifinals, which could be either of three formidable teams: Brazil, Montenegro, or Cameroon. There is a lot on the line, and how things turn out will have a big impact on Gilas’s tournament trajectory.

The Gilas may still progress even if they lose to Georgia as long as the margin of defeat is less than 18 points. A disastrous 83-55 loss against Latvia on the first night significantly damaged Georgia’s hopes, since it adversely affected their point difference. With a current point difference of +9 against Georgia’s -28, Gilas has an advantage that may be critical in deciding how far they proceed.

For the duration of the competition, Coach Cone underlined the significance of continuing on their present track and being competitive. Cone emphasized, “It’s critical that Gilas stay afloat,” highlighting the need for the group to maintain resilience and concentration.

In addition to being a test of talent and strategy, the next game against Georgia will also gauge the team’s capacity for handling pressure and living up to the high expectations of its fans. The entire country will be watching Gilas Pilipinas as they get ready for this important showdown, hoping for a performance that would sustain their Olympic ambitions.

“Whenever you win a game, the expectations go up so then you have to keep chasing the expectations,” the coach for the Gilas stated. “Hopefully, we won’t feel that and hopefully, we can get that communicated to our team that we can’t play the expectations. We just play the way we can play.”

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