The Philippines lost in overtime to Croatia, 78–81, yesterday in their first game in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. But even as I rue that missed chance to win in the last possession of regulation, I couldn't be prouder of the heart and effort the 23.5-point underdog Gilas Pilipinas (ranked 34th in the world and competing in the world championships for the first time since 1978) displayed in their near-upset of the 16th-ranked Croatians. They were this close to pulling out the win after managing to rally from a double-digit second quarter deficit and keep the Croatians within sight the rest of the way.
It seems only fitting that their brave showing came on the same day as the gallant stand besieged Filipino soldiers-UNDOF peacekeepers made against Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights.
Props to the loud Filipino crowd that attended the game at the Palacio Municipal de Deportes San Pablo in Seville, Spain and gave Gilas virtual homecourt advantage. Their arena-shaking chants of "Defense!" gave my goosebumps goosebumps.