MVP: Moral victories no longer enough for Gilas
Gilas wraps up campaign vs Senegal
SEVILLE, Spain -- The Philippine national team is gearing up for its final game in the group round of the FIBA World Cup of Basketball on Thursday.
But Gilas Pilipinas is facing a formidable challenge from Senegal, which has been exceeding expectations.
The 41st-ranked Senegal came into the tournament with the lowest rating among the teams in Group B, but scored two victories in four starts.
Gilas, on the other hand, remains winless in four starts, but came close to beating 3 teams: Croatia, Argentina, and Puerto Rico.
Senegal boasts of having Minnesota Timberwolves' Gorgui Dieng and NBA D-League player Hamady N'Diaye. Both are 7-footers.
Meanwhile, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president and sports patron Manny Pangilinan said he wanted Gilas to return to the Philippines with at least one victory under its belt.
Pangilinan was among those left frustrated after seeing the Filipinos giving away what could have been a win against Puerto Rico.
"Napakalungkot... nag-umpisa tayo sa second quarter, bumagsak ang lead natin. Kinse puntos sa first quarter ang pinakamataas tapos bumagsak sa 5 sa second half," he said.
"Ganun din sa Argentina, mas malakas lang ang Argentina. Sa third ganun din, bagsak. Sa fourth patay."
Pangilinan said he remembered texting coach Chot Reyes about asking for a victory, prior to the Puerto Rico game.
"It's about time, it's about time," he said. "'Yun ang text message ko kay Coach Chot kaninang umaga (Wednesday morning). Sabi ko 'Let's go guys. Let's get Puerto Rico. It's time for a real win.'"
Game time between Gilas and Senegal begins at 8 p.m. Manila time.