Gilas coach Vincent Reyes reacts to play during their 2014 FIBA World basketball championships Group B match vs Senegal at the Palacio Municipal de Deportes in Sevilla. Photo by Cristina Quicler, Agence France-Presse
SEVILLE, Spain -- They may have failed to reach the next round, but Gilas Pilipinas' victory against Senegal at the FIBA World Cup of Basketball on Thursday will be remembered for many years to come.
Although the Philippines made the semi-finals during the 1978 FIBA games in Manila, Thursday’s victory was the nationals' first win at the World Championships in 40 years since defeating Australia, 101-100, in 1974.
During his pre-game talk, Gilas coach Chot Reyes stressed the importance of finally getting the win after four disappointing finishes in Group B.
"I just said that let's play a game that will make people remember us for the rest of our lives. Nobody knows how long we'll be here. But in the end of whatever we're doing, what we leave behind is the pride that our children will feel when they speak our names," Reyes said in the FIBA World's official website.
Reyes also said they could have placed higher if they came into the tournament with more experience against tougher teams.
"Wow, what could have been if not for our inexperience. Then we would be going to Madrid [Round of 16] right now," said Reyes.
"We played the game of our lives [against Senegal]."
Jimmy Alapag, who had his last international game with 18 points under his name, said he hopes the victory will be the start of something big for Philippine basketball.
The Gilas skipper said that the Philippines has come a long way since he started representing the country in 2002.
Alapag hopes they have succeeded in inspiring his fellow Filipinos back home.
"I was trying to not get too emotional before the game. For this to be on the world stage, we want to be the example, the inspiration to all those kids back in the Philippines and to let them know that here we are on the world stage and hopefully this is just the start," he said.