Brazil break Gilas hearts to breeze into Final

RIGA (Latvia) – There have been two faces for Brazil in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2024 in Riga and they showed both again in the Semi-Finals, winning 71-60 against Philippines.

Not ready in the first twenty minutes of the contest, they were then basically unstoppable in the second half.

Writing the end of the Philippines’ fairytale run, Aleksandar Petrovic’s team will now wait for the second encounter of the day to find out their opponents on Sunday. Will it be the most-anticipated clash against Latvian hosts or a case of extracting revenge against Cameroon?

Turning Point
After struggling once again for the vast majority of the first half, also going down by 12 points (24-12) entering the second quarter, Brazil found the play to switch mentally going towards halftime.

With less than thirty seconds on the shot clock, Didi Louzada broke the first line and attacked the paint with ease. That was the preview of a resounding 13-0 third-quarter run by the Brazilian national team. It snapped the resistance of Gilas and helped them roll all the way to victory.

TCL Player of the Game
Bruno Caboclo’s 25-point effort in the opening victory against Montenegro made him the first TCL Player of the Game of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Riga.

Missing out on the appointment against Cameroon, he came back stronger than ever in the Semi-Finals, providing pick-and-roll chemistry, as well as energy on defense..

He finished with his first double-double after harvesting 15 points and 11 rebounds. The forward also had 3 blocks to help shut down the hopes of the opposing team.

Stats don’t lie
If Brazil wanted to reduce Gilas’ chances of making it to the big stage on Sunday at Arena Riga, they needed to limit Tim Cone’s attempts from the three-point line.

The Philippines were entering the Semi-Finals shooting 51.2% over 21.5 attempts per game from beyond the arc. This time, they ‘only’ converted 7 of 18 for a good but relatively normal 39.0%.

In Brazil’s victory, the scoring contribution from non-starters was also significantly important. They outscored the Asian side in points off the bench by 21-11.

Bottom line
Brazil started once again the game slowly, after also not approaching the contests well enough against Montenegro and Cameroon. But just like what happened in their first two appearances in the competition, they exited from the locker room at halftime looking a different team.

The 14-0 run to start the second half was crucial for them to slow down Philippine hopes of making it to the Final. It’s becoming a trend now. And it will be interesting to see if they will keep it up in the their last game.

The Philippines scored their first field goal only six minutes into the third quarter and missed Justin Brownlee’s push on offense. Leo Meindl and Georginho De Paula’s defensive efforts on the “Michael Jordan of the Philippines” were vital. Marcelinho Huertas also delivered with 13 points and 6 rebounds.

Kai Sotto’s absence played a significant role in the Philippines’ rim-protection and paint usage, especially in Coach Tim Cone’s most urgent emergency moments.

They said
“Our team always keeps fighting, we’re resilient and we never give up. We faced difficulties in all the games, and we were able to pull it off. Hopefully tomorrow, regardless of the opponent we have, we can be prepared and have a better start to the game.” Brazil’s captain, Marcelinho Huertas

“We had a great game defensively, in the first half we couldn’t get shots and we needed to keep shooting and keep our energy up. We practice every day to do it, we need to find ways to get easy buckets.” Brazil’s baller

Georginho De Paula of Brazil wants his team to find a way to get easier buckets
“We lost our best offensive player, who is Raulzinho. So what’s else for us? Defensive effort. 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.” Brazil’s head coach Aleksandar Petrovic

“It’s funny, we didn’t expect to be here. But now we expected to win. It’s very painful we didn’t, 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.” Philippines head coach, Tim Cone

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

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