Alapag: We showed that we belong here (September 02, 2014)
Dennis Gasgonia [ Source: ABS CBN News ]

Philippines' guard Jimmy Alapag gets ready to shoot a basket during the 2014 FIBA World basketball championships Group B match vs Greece. Photo by Pierre-Philippe Marcou, Agence France-Presse

SEVILLE, Spain -- Jimmy Alapag is mighty proud of having played against Argentina, especially as Gilas Pilipinas lost by only a four-point margin against the No. 3 team in the world.

Alapag's near seamless three-point shooting nearly knocked down the Argentina squad especially after he connected a long jumper that cut the deficit to 81-83 just two minutes remaining before regulation.

In the end, he registered five triples for a total of 15 points.

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Gilas Pilipinas vs Argentina highlights (September 02, 2014)
[ Source: POL! ]

International Basketball

The Philippine national men’s basketball team suffered a heartbreaking 85-81 defeat to perennial world powerhouse Argentina to drop its third straight game in the FIBA Basketball World Cup Monday in Seville, Spain.

The loss dropped Gilas Pilipinas to 0-3 while Argentina improved to 2-1.

See video below:

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Team USA Players Who Must Improve (September 02, 2014)
Scott Polacek [ Source: Bleacher Report ]

Derick Rose of Team USA. Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

It’s a testament to the overall strength of Team USA basketball that a 21-point victory over Turkey is cause for alarm, but the red, white and blue were down by six in the middle of the third quarter.

If it wasn’t for an incredible performance from Kenneth Faried, the Americans may have been in trouble. That type of effort simply isn’t going to cut it against Serge Ibaka, the Gasol brothers and the rest of Spain later in the tournament.

With that in mind, here is a look at a few Team USA members who must improve going forward if a 2014 FIBA World Cup championship is in the cards.

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Puerto Rico, Senegal final PH opponents (September 02, 2014)
Musong R. Castillo [ Source: Inquirer ]

Andray Blatche of Gilas Pilipinas. FIBA Photo

SEVILLE, Spain—Reeling from two straight losses already, Gilas Pilipinas is seriously thinking of giving Andray Blatche two days of rest to recover from a twisted right knee and give his wards a fighting chance in their last two games in the the Fiba World Cup.

Set to play Argentina at press time, Reyes was flirting with the thought of letting Blatche cool his heels on the bench and have him healthier for Puerto Rico on Wednesday and Senegal the day after.

“It’s a game time decision,” Reyes told reporters in this quaint city before his wards slug it out with the World No. 3 Argentines at 5:30 p.m. Monday (11:30 p.m. in Manila) at Centro Deportivo San Pablo.

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Former PBA import Balkman tangles with Gilas aces (September 02, 2014)
Musong R. Castillo [ Source: Inquirer ]

Puerto Rico's Renaldo Balkman grabs a rebound. FIBA Photo

SEVILLE, Spain—Renaldo Balkman swears that he loves the Philippines, but vowed to go all out when Puerto Rico and Gilas Pilipinas—both struggling in Group B play in the Fiba World Cup with 0-3 cards—go at each other’s throat Wednesday.

Balkman had gone for one throat in an impressive albeit very brief stint in the PBA in 2013, when he choked teammate Arwind Santos that led to his lifetime ban.

“No hard feelings,” Balkman said of the ban. “I love Manila and I love the Philippines. But I will treat it as like any other game.”

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Ranidel de Ocampo of Gilas Pilipinas slips past the defense of Argentina's Luis Scola. FIBA Photo

The Philippine national men’s basketball has not won a game in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. But with the way they have pushed some of the world’s best teams to their limits, it’s fair to say that this team is playing beyond expectations.

Gilas Pilipinas had every reason to wilt under the top-notch play of the European and South American powerhouses they have faced in Group B of the tournament but proved that their fighting heart – their ‘Puso’ – prevails even in defeat.

They forced Croatia into an overtime period before falling 81-78 in their first game before hanging tough against a much larger Greece side, 82-70, in their second game.

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Pablo Prigioni of Argentina. FIBA Photo

Following Argentina’s tight 85-81 victory over the Philippine national men’s basketball team in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, NBA player Pablo Prigioni was all praises for the Gilas Pilipinas side.

“Philippines played a good game, it was tough til the end,” Prigioni said after the game.

“Everyone can shoot, they can play a good rhythm. It’s fun to watch.”

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