Gilas Pilipinas break FIBA jinx with vengeance exit over Senegal


Finally, for 40 years of battles, Gilas Pilipinas successfully bounced back from grave erasing all their heartbreaks inside the Seville Arena after putting a show in FIBA Basketball World Cup 2014 as they seized first ever victory over Team Senegal to post the 81-79 see-saw victory.

Jimmy Alapag, playing his last game for the Philippines in international competitions, fired off crucial free throws in overtime to carry Gilas after Blatche fouled out of the game in overtime.

But before the historic victory, the Philippines has beaten Argentina before in the world basketball scene, and it happened 66 years to the day Gilas fell just short of repeating the feat, 81-85.

The Philippines pulled off the upset over Argentina, 45-43, in the 1948 London Olympics with a team bannered by legends like Lauro Mumar, Francisco Vestil, Eddie Decena, Andy Dela Cruz, Eduardo Fulgencio, Primitivo Martinez, Gabriel and Felicisimo Fajardo.

Blatche and Alapag led Gilas with 18 points each while June Mar Fajardo added 15 pointsto finally give the Philippines a much-deserved victory.

When Blatche committed his fifth foul of the game with 1:55 left in overtime, point guard Xane Dalmeida took the opportunity and gave Senegal a two-point advantage with free throws.

But De Ocampo and Fajardo showed off their version of a high-low play leading to another Fajardo basket. With 1:14 left De Ocampo was fouled on a rebound play and he calmly sank both free throws for a 73-71 lead.

Senegal then fouled Fajardo in another rebound play and the Kraken extended the Gilas lead to four points with 55 seconds. Dieng forced up a triple and Gilas grabbed the rebound. Alapag made two free throws but Senegal responded with a triple.

With 22 seconds left on the clock, Alapag tear his free throws for a 78-74 count favoring Gilas. Another Senegal miss led to a split by Norwood for a 79-74 Gilas lead with 11 seconds left. A dunk by Ndiaye cut it to 79-76 and fittingly, Alapag capped his international career with the game-clinching free throws.

Noise roared inside the Seville Arena as Team Gilas Pilipinas woke up from series of nightmares with a sweet revenge exit in FIBA World Cup tourney. IMT