Gilas still proceeds to FIBA OQT semis despite Georgia's win

Georgia won the game but lost a shot at making the FIBA OQT semis. FIBA
By Gil Moriones

MANILA––The Cinderella run to an Olympic comeback continues for Gilas Pilipinas as they moved on to the semifinals of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) despite a 96-94 loss to Georgia Thursday at Arena Riga in Latvia.

Needing to win by at least 19 points to step into the semis, Georgia failed to maximize their aggressiveness in the early stretches of the game as Gilas crawled back from 20 points down and even took the lead at some points of the game. 

The Georgians went on a 16-0 run in the first five minutes of the 1st quarter until Justin Brownlee and Chris Newsome scored back-to-back shots from downtown to finally put Gilas on the board.

Georgia's lead eventually bubbled up to 20, 40-20, early in the second quarter before Gilas launched an 11-0 run later in the period to cut their deficit back to their preferred range. 

Gilas then caught fire in the third quarter and eventually tasted their first lead of the game, 71-70, with 1:48 left in the quarter. 

Gilas again scored their second lead of the game, 81-80, with 7:14 left in the 4th canto courtesy of CJ Perez as he scored on a layup.

Georgia responded with an 8-0 run to give them the lead for good, 88-81, with 4:52 to play, but Perez continued to sizzle to help Gilas cut the lead down to one, 92-91, even as both sides settled for an exchange of baskets in the end.

In a bizarre moment with time winding down, Goga Bitadze tried to put back the missed free throw of Newsome in Gilas' basket in hopes of forcing overtime, but the Orlando Magic player missed his own goal.

Sandro Mamukelashvili led Georgia, whose 83-55 loss to Latvia, the eventual top seed in Group A, turned out to be the fatal blow to their semifinal bid, with 26 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals, and one block.

Bitadze added 21 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.

Brownlee led Gilas, whose semifinal opponent will be determined after the Cameroon-Brazil game early Friday (Philippine Time), with 28 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and one steal.

The semifinals of the Riga OQT will be on Saturday night (Philippine time).  

The scores: 

Georgia 96-Mamukelashvili 26, Bitadze 21, Shengelia 17, Thomasson 14, Sanadze 13, Andronikashvili 5, Jintcharadze 0, Korsantia 0, Ochkhikidze 0, Londaridze 0.

Philippines 94-Brownlee 28, Ramos 16, Perez 14, Newsome 13, Tamayo 7, Fajardo 6, Sotto 4, Oftana 4, Aguilar 4, Quiambao 0.

Quarters: 28-17, 55–43, 74–74, 96–94. 

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