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Gilas ends bid for Paris Olympics

Brazil ended the Philippines’ hopes of making the Olympics again after 52 years, winning their semifinal duel, 71-60, in the FIBA qualifying tournament at Arena Riga in Latvia on Saturday night (PH time).

Aleksandar Petrovic’s team will meet either the host or Cameroon on Monday for a slot in the Paris Games.

A Bruno Caboclo jumper instigated Brazil’s 14-0 run to start off the third quarter with a 41-33 edge.

It took six minutes before the Philippines scored its first field goal in the third, a June Mar Fajardo tip-in cutting Brazil’s lead to 41-35.

The Philippines entered the semifinals shooting 51.2 percent from beyond the arc. Against Brazil, it could only manage 7 of 18 for 39 percent.

Brazil also outscored the Gilas bench, 21-11.

Coach Time Cone said Gilas didn’t expect to go this far but the loss hurt just the same.

“It’s very painful we didn’t [win], especially after having a halftime lead. That start of the third quarter was painful to watch. Losing Kai [Sotto] was big for us. We got to be better, we’re trying to tell ourselves that almost isn’t good enough,” he told Fiba.com, referring to their 24-12 lead at the start of the second quarter.

The 7-foot-2 Sotto missed the game due to a bruised rib sustained during the previous match against Georgia, which lost the Final Four slot to the Philippines via an inferior quotient despite winning 96-94.

Caboclo topscored for Brazil with 15 points while Marcelinho Huertas added 13.

“Today we can be proud of how we cut every single triangle game from the Philippines. This Brazil can’t play through offense. We have to play through defense,” Petrovic said.

Justin Brownlee paced the Philippines anew, also with 15 points, Dwight Ramos added 13, and veteran Fajardo and CJ Perez poured in 10 points apiece.

“It takes one night when you don’t play well and you lose. That’s how good the teams are here,” Ramos said.

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