FOSHAN, China – Kiefer Ravena tried to fight back tears after Gilas Pilipinas remained winless in the FIBA World Cup here following a heart-wrenching 81-84 overtime loss to Angola here on Wednesday, September 4.
That, though, did not happen as it squandered a three-point lead in the extra period with Angola capitalizing late for its first win in the tournament.
"It's tough, man. We wanted to win so bad, especially for coach Yeng [Guiao], for the whole team. But we fell short," an emotional Ravena, his voice cracking, said in a mix of Filipino and English.
"I've never been emotional, you all know me. But we've been under so much criticism that we really wanted to win this game. But that's what it is – breaks of the game."
Down 12 points in the final quarter, Gilas Pilipinas put on an inspired come-from-behind performance before hundreds of cheering Filipinos who trooped to the GBA International Sports and Cultural Center to watch.
While forcing overtime was the easy part, getting the job done was not.
"It would have been the world to us," Ravena said when asked what it would have meant to gift the Filipinos in attendance and back home a triumph.
"The reason we're so sad because we couldn't make our countrymen happy. It's been tough."
Gilas Pilipinas heads to Beijing on Thursday, September 5, for the classification stage where it will first face Tunisia. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.