Tim Cone 'totally shocked' after Gilas' upset win vs Latvia

Even coach Tim Cone could not believe Gilas would pull off a shocker in Riga. FIBA
By Gil Moriones

MANILA--Even coach Tim Cone could not believe Gilas Pilipinas would pull off an upset for the ages against Latvia to start their campaign in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.

On Thursday (Philippine Time), world number 37 Gilas put the basketball world on notice after stunning world number six Latvia in the latter's home at the Riga Arena, a first for the Philippine men's basketball team against European opposition in a FIBA-sanctioned game in 64 years.

"I'm totally shocked to be sitting here in front of you guys after winning this basketball game. This is not something we thought we were going to do. I'll be honest with you. We wanted to come in and compete and put on a good show," Cone lamented his shock during the post-game press conference. 

"We got started early, we hit shots early, and then thankfully Latvia missed shots, and also [Arturs] Zagars didn't play, so that was huge for us," the winningest coach in the PBA further stated.

Latvia's head coach Luca Banchi later said that they had to sit out Zagars for the game as a medical precaution after suffering an injury against Georgia early Wednesday (Philippine Time).

The last FIBA win for the Philippines against any European opposition was against Spain in a slim 84-82 victory during the men's basketball event of the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Italy.

Including unsanctioned friendlies, the last time the Philippines beat a European national team was when the Selecta-RP Team stopped Ukraine in 2002 during a pocket tournament as part of the Filipinos' preparations for the Asian Games.

Despite the upset win, Cone said the job is not done yet.

"We didn't come here to win one game. We hopefully can move on and get to the next round and have a chance to maybe play Latvia again in the finals," Cone said. 

The inspired and confident Philippine squad gets the upper hand in this scenario as they need either a win versus Georgia or maintain a deficit of less than 18 points in case Georgia wins later Thursday to secure a semifinal spot.

Based on the situation in Group B, Gilas could either face Brazil or Montenegro in the next round unless Cameroon shockingly demolishes Brazil early Friday (Philippine Time).

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