Gilas in high spirits after France's stunner over Spain
By Nelson Beltran Updated Thursday September 11, 2014 - 2:17pm

French players celebrate during the basketball World Cup quarter finals match between Spain and France in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

MANILA, Philippines - Six days after its last game in the FIBA World Cup, the Gilas Pilipinas fever is still on, especially after a big quarterfinal-round triumph by the France squad that the Filipinos fought toe-to-toe in a WC warmup tourney in Antibes.

France humbled host Spain, 65-52, in an upset bringing back to mind the gritty performance made by Gilas Pilipinas from the run-up to the World Cup and all the way to the tournament proper in Spain.

Going to the WC proper, the Nationals made heads turn in pushing the French to the wall before falling down, 68-75, in the Antibes International Tourney in Antibes, France.

It's not lost on the Filipinos basketball fans, the Filipino netizens and the Gilas players themselves.

Gilas captain Jimmy Alapag posted on his Twitter account a wide-eye, surprised look, saying: "Woke up to see France upset host Spain in the FIBA World Cup!"

Gabe Norwood watched the match animatedly and towards the end, twitted: "Yooooo France going to pull off this upset?!?!"

Does France's victory over Spain also warm Gilas coach Chot Reyes' heart.

"(I'm) not thinking about it that way," said Reyes.

"France is really strong, but what impresses me is that they shut down Spain with straight man-to-man defense while they had to revert to 2-3 zone to stop us. Yun ang nakakabilib," Reyes pointed out.

Naturalized center Andray Blatche and Paul Lee scored 12 points each and the team hit at a solid 12-of-29 three-point shooting as the Filipinos put up a tough showing against the French team featuring no less than six NBA players.

Actually, Gilas Pilipinas was ahead by five, 60-55, entering the last seven minutes of the game, but France came through with a strong run at the finish to avoid an upset.

Six-foot-8 forward Nicolas Batum, a Portland TrailBlazer in the NBA, led all scorers with 16 points with 6-foot-11 center Joffrey Lauvergne and 6-foot-6 forward Florent Pietrus adding 12 and 10, respectively.

But even with their full roster including other NBA players Nando de Colo (Toronto), Boris Diaw (San Antonio), Evan Fournier (Denver), Rudy Gobert (Utah) and Ian Mahinmi (Indiana), the French, No. 8 in the FIBA World Ranking, had a hard time shaking off Gilas' furious fight.

 The Filipinos took the half at 39-35 and led by three, 55-52, going into the final quarter.

Gilas Pilipinas enjoyed a five-point lead in the last seven-minute mark of the game following a trey from Jimmy Alapag.

From there, the French outscored the Filipinos, 20-8, to pull through.

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