Against all odds, the Gilas Pilipinas women's 3x3 U18 team is headed to the quarterfinals of the 2019 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup after scoring two spectacular wins against strong opposition in Day 3 of the competitions on Wednesday.
The Philippines was the second-lowest ranked team in the group but they will join odds-on favorite France in the next stage.
Camille Izabel Clarin scored on a follow-up right at the buzzer as the Gilas women's 3x3 squad scored a huge 10-9 upset victory over the sixth-seeded Netherlands.
A few hours later, it was Angel Surada, who failed to score a single point in their first game, emerging as the hero for the Philippines as she scored both points in sudden-death overtime that gave them a 15-14 victory over Czech Republic.
"It's was amazing to see that kind of effort from the team," said head coach Patrick Aquino, who also led the Gilas Pilipinas women's team to a quarterfinal stint in the recently concluded 2019 FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup in Changsha, China. "They never gave up and I'm so proud of them."
The Philippines and Netherlands knew how important their matchup was since both squads were holding identical 1-1 win-loss tallies after the first day. The Philippines lost their opener against powerhouse France 22-2 but they rebounded with a 20-14 victory against host Mongolia. The Netherlands, on the other end, were victorious against the Czech Republic 14-9 but also lost to France, 15-2.
The young Filipinas dragged the higher-seeded Netherland squad into a low-scoring battle. They led 5-4 with four minutes remaining in the matchup but the Dutch squad was able to answer with the score tied at 6-6 a little later on.
Ella Patrice Fajardo nailed an important basket for the Philippines as she converted on a two-point shot to give them an 8-6 lead. However, they committed their seventh foul on the ensuing play. Luckily for the Philippines, the Netherlands could only come up with a split from the line.
The orange side took the lead, 9-8, with Alissa Van Der Plas nailing a two-pointer with 1:03 remaining.
Fajardo drew a foul in the act of shooting with 30 seconds left and the Dutch squad started to fall apart. First, they failed to clear the ball, leading to a turnover. Clarin missed on a long shot but Fajardo was there to force a jump ball with the possession arrow being in their favor.
Clarin missed another outside shot but Karl Ann Pinglo kept the ball alive by tapping it free. Clarin swooped in and scored on a short stab at the buzzer.
Fajardo had six for Gilas while Clarin and Pingol added three and one, respectively.
In their second game of the day, the Philippines looked like they were going to cruise to a victory with a 13-9 lead against the Czech Republic with 27 seconds remaining in the match. However, Sara Kocourkova got lucky as she banked in a two-pointer with 18 seconds remaining.
After forcing a miss from Clarin, Czech Republic sent the ball to Pavlina Tabackova who sank a two-point shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
In 3x3, the rule is that the team to score the two points first gets the victory and Surada quickly took the lead for the Philippines.
Tabackova tied the game from the stripe but Surada responded with a great effort play on their next possession as her first shot was blocked but stayed with the play to convert on a putback and finish off the contest.
"It is encouraging to note that this early in our developmental stage, our decision to expose our young girls in the world stage is also being rewarded with inspiring victories. We pray for their continued success against China on Friday," SBP president Al Panlilio said. "SBP's push to excel in women's basketball is starting to pay off. Our ultimate goal is for our women's program to achieve greatness similar to our Gilas Pilipinas Men and Gilas Pilipinas Youth."
Up next for the Philippines is a battle against China, the top team in the world, in the quarterfinals on Friday.