Gilas Pilipinas shocks Latvia in FIBA OQT opener, 89-80

In a stunning upset, world number 37 Gilas Pilipinas pulled off a major victory against host Latvia, ranked sixth in the world, with a final score of 89-80, to open their 2024 FIBA Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament campaign on Thursday, July 4th.

The Philippines entered the game as underdogs, but they came out with fire and determination. Led by Justin Brownlee‘s impressive near triple-double of 26 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists, Gilas Pilipinas controlled the pace of the game for most of the night.

Gilas Starts Strong, Maintains Control

The Filipinos got off to a strong start, establishing an early lead that they held onto throughout the first half. Latvia attempted to fight back in the second half, but the Philippine defense remained resilient, forcing turnovers and contesting shots.

From the opening tip-off, Gilas displayed a fearless approach. An electrifying 8-0 run to start the game set the tone for their aggressive offense. While Latvia attempted to close the gap in the first quarter, 21-16, a determined Gilas responded with a dominant 11-0 run to close the quarter, extending their lead to a commanding 32-16 advantage.

Coach Tim Cone’s strategic adjustments kept Gilas in control throughout the second and third quarters. They maintained a comfortable double-digit lead, showcasing impressive teamwork and defensive resilience. However, Latvia refused to surrender, launching a determined comeback attempt in the fourth quarter.

Down the stretch, Gilas Pilipinas displayed composure and clutch play to secure the improbable victory. This win sets the tone for a promising start to their OQT journey as they aim to qualify for the 2024 Olympics.

Brownlee’s Heroics Lead Gilas to Victory

Brownlee was the undisputed star for Gilas Pilipinas. His all-around performance, showcasing his scoring ability, rebounding prowess, and playmaking skills, was instrumental in the team’s success.

Facing Latvia’s late surge, Justin emerged as the hero for Gilas Pilipinas. He spearheaded the team’s resistance with clutch three-pointer, effectively dampening Latvia’s momentum.

Sotto and Teammates Contribute to Triumph

Brownlee wasn’t alone in securing this historic victory. Kai Sotto provided valuable support inside the paint, contributing 18 points and eight rebounds. Dwight Ramos chipped in with 12 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, while the veteran presence of June Mar Fajardo (11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals) and Chris Newsome (10 points, 4 rebounds) proved crucial.

Dominant Shooting and Rebounding

Gilas Pilipinas’ offensive efficiency played a significant role in their upset win. They shot an impressive 48% from the field and connected on 9 of their 20 three-point attempts (45%). Defensively, they dominated the rebounding battle, outrebounding Latvia 43-34. This dominance on the boards provided extra possessions and second-chance opportunities for Gilas.

Latvia’s Struggles and Historic Significance

Latvia, despite boasting a higher world ranking (6th compared to the Philippines’ 37th), struggled to overcome Gilas’ relentless pressure. Davis Bertans, a key player for Latvia, was limited to only 10 points, while Rodions Kurucs led their scoring with 18 points. Overall, Latvia’s shooting woes, particularly from beyond the arc (9 for 39 attempts), hampered their offensive efforts.

History against European team

This victory marks a monumental achievement for Gilas Pilipinas. It represents their first win against a European team in an official FIBA competition since 1960, per FIBA, a remarkable feat that has reignited excitement and pride among Filipino basketball fans. Their last victory against a European opponent came in the 1960 Olympic Games, where they defeated Spain 84-82.

Looking Ahead: Facing Georgia and the Road to Olympics

With this historic win under their belt, Gilas Pilipinas now sets their sights on their next opponent, Georgia. Their matchup is scheduled for July 4th at 8:30 PM. The Filipinos have shown that they can compete against a top-ranked team, and basketball fans around the world will be eagerly waiting to see if they can continue their run in the OQT.

Winning at least one more game in Group A will be crucial for their chances of advancing to the OQT semifinals. This victory against Latvia serves as a testament to the talent, determination, and unwavering spirit of the Gilas Pilipinas team. The entire nation will be eagerly awaiting their next game, hoping to see them continue their journey towards achieving their Olympic dream.


The FIBA OQT is a tournament that offers teams a chance to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games. The Philippines are hoping to secure one of the coveted spots in the Olympics and this victory against Latvia is a significant step towards achieving that goal.