Though Gilas Pilipinas showed unwavering spirit during their match against Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) host country Serbia, the team still couldn’t subdue the 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist, 83-76, in their opening match at Belgrade’s Aleksandar Nikolic Hall, Thursday (PH Time).

The young delegation stood toe-to-toe with their senior foe until the last quarter of the tourney, however, they proved no match for Dallas Mavericks’ towering center Boban Marjanovic. 

Marjanovic, who stands at 7-foot-4, scored Serbia’s last 10 points, which ultimately decided the fate of the young Gilas team. 

However, Gilas proved to be a threatening force against the Serbians before the last minutes of the fourth quarter. 

The young players were constantly neck-and-neck with the veterans – even managing to outscore them in the last round, 74-73, with 3:50 left in the clock thanks to a bucket by RJ Abarrientos.

Marjanovic finished with 25 points to lead Serbia’s win. Ognjen Dobric contributed 16 points, and Milos Teodosic had 13 buckets.

For the Philippines, Ange Kouame scored a total of 17 points, Jordan Heading pitched in 13 while Justine Baltazar and Kai Sotto had 10 points each.

With this win, Serbia’s spot in the semi-finals has been solidified – joining Italy and Puerto Rico. In their first match, the host country went against the Dominican Republic team, who they also defeated 94-76.

Gilas will play their second OQT match on Friday morning (PH Time) against the Dominican Republic. 

Their next match will be a must-win, especially if they want to move on to the knockout stage of the tournament.

If Gilas snatches a win in their next match, they’ll face off with the winner of the Italy-Puerto Rico game in the knockout semifinals.

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Image credit: FIBA Basketball’s Official Website