Coach Chot Reyes gives instructions to his players during the 2014 FIBA World basketball championships Group B match Croatia vs Philippines at the Palacio Municipal de Deportes in Sevilla on Saturday. Photo by Cristina Quicler, Agence France-Presse
MANILA, Philippines -- Businessman Manny V. Pangilinan on Sunday tempered the euphoria felt by Filipino basketball fans following Gilas Pilipinas' gallant stand against Croatia in their first game in the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
The Philippine national basketball team was a huge underdog entering the game, and indeed Croatia took a double-digit lead in the first half thanks to their hot three-point shooting.
Gilas rallied in the second half, however, thanks in part to naturalized big man Andray Blatche and to the perimeter shooting of gunners like Jeff Chan. The Filipinos pushed the Croatians to the limit and sent the game into overtime, but eventually lost 78-81.
Pangilinan, who is also the president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, on Sunday posted a series of tweets first commending the team for their performance, but also stressing that the game still resulted in a loss for Gilas.
"Well done, Gilas," tweeted MVP. "You've made us all very proud, and with an element of surprise, impressed FIBA and the global basketball world -- including Croatia."
"The Filipino heart was on the court for all to see, with no more proof needed that love for country animated our effort and our game," he also said, adding the hashtag "#Puso."
Pangilinan called Saturday night's loss "one small step forward" for Philippine basketball following "years of neglect and resignation to our fate in basketball because of our size."
"We've injured the dragons yesterday," he said.
Pangilinan, however, also pointed out that "whilst a great moral victory was undoubtedly achieved, it is one game statistically, and it goes on the record books as a loss."
"Let's not get lost in the euphoria yet. As (Winston) Churchill said: Wars are not won with perceptions of moral victories. They simply must be won," MVP said.
"Finally, while I'm at it, Robert Frost reminds us there are miles to go before we sleep," he added. "God bless Gilas. God bless (the) Philippines."
Gilas Pilipinas returns to action early Monday morning Manila time against Greece.