Fans, players ecstatic as PH nabs first FIBA win

By Dennis Gasgonia,

Posted at Sep 05 2014 09:27 AM | Updated as of Sep 05 2014 05:41 PM

Gilas guard Jimmy Alapag celebrates with his supporters after winning the 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 jumped, screamed and waved their flags like there's no tomorrow during Gilas Pilipinas' first four games in the FIBA World Cup.

And now that the nationals got that elusive victory over Senegal – their first FIBA win in this tournament -- Filipino basketball fans at the Palacio Municipal Deportes San Pablo were simply ecstatic.

Gilas didn't reach the last 16 as they needed at least two wins to get there, but it was a breakthrough for the first squad to represent the country on the basketball world stage since 1978.

Jeiel Guarino was among the Filipinos fans who erupted into wild cheer after the clock expired in overtime to give the Philippines its only win in the tournament on Thursday.

"Napakatagal na naming hinihintay. Napaka-close 'yung mga unang laban" he said. "Eto wala nang boses, pero sa wakas kahit two points lang, a win is a win."

"Unang laro natin natalo tayo by overtime, pero 'yung huling laban panalo by overtime."

Guirino was referring to Gilas Pilipinas' close victories against Croatia, Argentina and Puerto Rico.

"Kahit na ngayon lang tayo nanalo, from the first game until the last, our players showed their guts, their 'gilas'. They really played hard and great," said Filipina Ednalyn Moorcroft, who watched the games with her Canadian husband Bradley.

The Moorcroft couple was among the many Filipino fans who made their way to Seville just to cheer Gilas.

Also among those delighted by the nationals' victory were Gilas pool members Beau Belga and Jay Washington.

Belga said nobody in the international community expected Gilas to win in such a high-level competition.

"Hindi mo naman kasi ine-expect na manalo sa ganitong liga eh. Mabibigat ang mga kalaban natin," the burly Rain or Shine center said.

"We finally got the win. They have been so close. It shows the true spirit of the team, never give up, we go down fighting," added Washington. "We played hard today thank God, we got the win. I'm happy for them."