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Gallant Gilas Falls to Croatia in FIBA World Cup Opener

Marc Pingris grabs the rebound as Bojan Bogdanovic and Gabe Norwood
looks from below. FIBA.com
By Ivan Saldajeno

Gilas Pilipinas put up an impressive game after a slow start, but the team lost to Croatia in overtime, 81-78, in the opening game of the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Seville, Spain.

The Croatians opened the game on a 17-4 run and led, 23-9, at the end of the first quarter.

The Filipinos, however, outscored their opponents, 22-14, in the second frame to come to within six, 31-37, at the half.

Gilas pulled closer and was only trailing by three, 49-52, late in the third period.

Croatia, however, scored five quick points in the last 2.5 seconds of the quarter to move up by eight again, 57-49, entering the payoff frame.

In the fourth quarter, however, Gilas fought back and eventually tied the game, 64-all, after an Andray Blatche triple with 3:17 left.

Luka Zoric put the Croatians back in the lead with two free throws in the next play, but Jeff Chan got hacked while taking a triple afterward.

Chan made all three free throws, and the Filipinos are finally up, 67-66, with 2:49 remaining.

Bojan Bogdanovic missed a jumper on the other end, and Blatche drove hard for the layup in the next Gilas offensive to put the Philippines up by three, 69-66, with 2:20 to go.

After the Croatia timeout, however, Krunoslav Simon nailed a three-pointer to tie the game anew at 69 apiece.

Blatche then turned the ball over, and Dario Saric went all the way to put his team again, 71-69, with 1:33 left.

The Philippines called a timeout, but the Gilas' set play did not materialize as Jimmy Alapag airballed a long three-point attempt.

Chan, however, made up in defense as he stole Simon's pass, and Jayson William converted a teardrop to tie the game again, 71-all, with 39.6 remaining.

Simon then missed a layup at the other end. Marc Pingris grabbed the rebound to give Gilas a chance to steal the win.

Chan, however, missed a hotly contested three-point try at the buzzer, and the game went to overtime.

Bogdanovic opened the extra time with an early jumper to put Croatia up, but Oliver Lafayette failed to increase his team's lead as he missed two free throws.

Blatche capitalized on the other end as he made four straight points to put Gilas up, 75-73, with 2:03 remaining.

Ante Tomic tied the game once more, 75-all, with a lay-in at the 1:47 mark.

In the next offensive, Chan lost the ball to Zoric, who in turn lost it to Alapag.

Alapag found Gabe Norwood free, but Norwood missed the medium-range jumper, and Simon cleared the board.

Norwood, who guarded Bogdanovic for most of the game, fouled the Croatian with 41.7 seconds left. Bogdanovic made two free throws to put Croatia up again, 77-75.

Ranidel De Ocampo missed an open three-pointer on the other side of the court, and Bogdanovic grabbed the rebound again.

William fouled Bogdanovic, and the Croatian knocked down two free throws again to up his team's lead to four with 19.2 seconds to go.

Looking for a quick shot, Blatche launched a three-pointer from NBA distance and nailed the shot to put keep Gilas in the game with 7.6 seconds left.

Chan immediately fouled Damjan Rudez in the next possession. Rudez made two free throws to up Croatia's lead to three.

With no timeout remaining, William had to go coast-to-coast for a desperation three-point heave, but William badly missed the attempt and Croatia escaped with the hard-fought win.

Bogdanovic led Croatia with 26 points on 9/18 field goal shooting and 6/6 free throw clip. Simon added 12 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.

Blatche had a game-high 28 points on 3/4 shooting from beyond the arc and 12 rebounds for Gilas. Chan, who exploded in the second quarter, made 17 points on 4/6 three-point shooting and four steals.

Box Scores:

Croatia 81-Bogdanovic 26, Simon 12, Saric 10, Tomic 8, Ukic 5, Markota 5, Lafayette 4, Zoric 4, Rudez 4, Babic 3

Philippines 78-Blatche 28, Chan 17, Pingris 10, William 6, De Ocampo 5, Alapag 4, Norwood 2, Dalistan 2, Tenorio 2, Fajardo 2, Aguilar 0

Quarterscores: 23-9, 37-31, 57-49, 71-71, 81-78
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