Five magical nights, five memorable games in one of basketball’s biggest stage.
After a 36-year absence, the Philippine men’s national basketball team (Gilas Pilipinas) made its return to the FIBA World Championship – rechristened as the FIBA Basketball World Cup – in 2014. The 17th edition of basketball’s world championship made its way to Spain with 24 teams battling it out for the prized Naismith trophy.
Qualifying through a silver medal finish in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, Gilas Pilipinas booked a ticket to Spain for the World Cup – the country’s first appearance since the1978 edition coincidentally held in Manila.
And in less than five months, the Philippine quintet plunges back to action in the 18th staging of the World Cup, with China tabbed as its host from August 31 to September 15. After a grueling qualification process which ran from November 2017 to February 2019, Gilas Pilipinas earned the right to represent Asia and Oceania – alongside seven other nations – in the 32-team World Cup.
Today, FOX Sports Philippines looks back at the campaign of the Nationals in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup:
August 30 – Croatia 81, Philippines 78 in overtime
The draw had the Philippines placed in Group B with Croatia, Greece, Argentina, Puerto Rico, and Senegal. Games were held inside the Palacio Municipal De Deportes San Pablo in the city of Seville.
In the Group B opener, Gilas Pilipinas went to war against the Croatians in a match that went to overtime. Climbing back from an early 15-point deficit, the Chot Reyes-mentored squad even took over the lead in the fourth quarter to nearly shock the favored European side. Jeff Chan had a chance to win the game in regulation, but the “Negros Sniper” flubbed his three-point attempt at the buzzer. In the overtime period, Bojan Bogdanovic knocked down key free throws to lead the Kockasti to a narrow three-point win.
Bogdanovic paced Croatia with 26 points. Krunoslav Simon and Dario Saric added 12 and 10 markers, respectively. Andray Blatche, tapped as the Philippines’ naturalized player replacing Marcus Douthit, poured in game-high 28 points along with 12 rebounds. Chan contributed 17 markers on 4-of-6 (66%) shooting from beyond the arc, while Marc Pingris chipped in 10.
August 31 – Greece 82, Philippines 70
The European giants scored a wire-to-wire victory over the Philippines in the second day of the group stages. Behind Georgios Printezis, Giannis Bourousis and Nick Calathes, Greece never relinquished the lead to the Filipinos, who fell to their worst defeat of the 17th World Cup.
Printezis led Hellas with 25 markers, while Bourosis finished with a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double. Blatche was the lone bright spot for Gilas Pilipinas, tallying 21 points and 14 boards.
September 1 – Argentina 85, Philippines 81
Gabe Norwood produced the biggest highlights for Gilas Pilipinas in this World Cup against Latin American powerhouse Argentina. The national team mainstay placed both Luis Scola and Marcos Mata on posters with a pair of highlight reel-worthy dunks.
After a fiery start by the Philippines, who led by as much as 10 points in the first quarter, the Argentinians flexed their muscles in the middle quarters to take control of the ballgame. Behind by 15 in the third frame, Gilas Pilipinas came to within one point in the final quarter behind the three-point shooting prowess of team captain Jimmy Alapag.
Down by two in the final 12 seconds, the Philippines bungled its chance to either tie or take the lead due to a traveling violation called on Jayson Castro, enabling Argentina to escape with the four-point win.
Scola paced El Alma Argentina with 19 points and seven rebounds, while Mata chipped in 17 markers on 5-of-7 (71%) shooting from the three-point line.
Combining for nine of 13 three-pointers, Ranidel De Ocampo and Alapag led Gilas Pilipinas with 18 and 15 markers respectively.
September 3 – Puerto Rico 77, Philippines 73
Abandoned by their three-point shooting accuracy, Gilas Pilipinas suffered their fourth defeat in as many games against Puerto Rico. With Jeff Chan, Jayson Castro, Ranidel De Ocampo and Gabe Norwood going 0-for-13 from beyond the arc, the Filipinos limped out of contention from the tournament. Puerto Rican playmaker JJ Barea waxed hot all game long, finishing with game-high 30 points. Blatche paced Gilas with 25 points, while LA Tenorio added 18.
September 4 – Philippines 81, Senegal 79 in overtime
Refusing to go home empty-handed, Gilas Pilipinas went all-out in their penultimate game against the West African Lions. Turning to their defense, the Philippines limited Senegal to just five points in the second quarter. While the Senegalese side came back to life in the third and fourth periods, the Filipinos proved steadier in overtime to claim their only victory of the 2014 World Cup. Blatche and Alapag both finished with 18 points, while June Mar Fajardo posted 15 markers and nine rebounds in his best showing of the tournament. Mouhammad Faye led Senegal with 20 points.