DUBAI - Philippine youth coach Jamike Jarin was in tears at the end of the game, not because Batang Gilas lost but because of the way his boys stood their ground against Argentina.
"I was in tears after the game on seeing them play like that. As their father figure, you can't ask for anything else,'' said Jarin, moments after the Philippines' 71-84 defeat at the hands of Argentina in the classification round of the Fiba U17 World Championship.
"It was a joy seeing them fight,'' he said.
The loss was the fifth straight for the undersized Batang Gilas in the world championships, but it represented their best game yet not only in terms of the winning margin but also with the way they made the game close in the end.
Thanks to 10 three-pointers in the second half and 13 in all, Batang Gilas gave the Argentinians a fright with over a minute left when they got within seven points, 71-78.
Jollo Go hit six of the Filipinos' 13 three-pointers and finished with 27 points while Mike Dela Cruz and Paul Desiderio also sizzled from the arc in the absence of leading scorer Jolo Mendoza.
Mendoza, who averaged 15.8 points after four games, pulled his right hamstring in the Round-of-16 loss to France.
"You can see the fighting heart of these boys and you can never question that,'' said Jarin.
Jarin also pointed out that Argentina is definitely not a pushover, describing the South Americans as a "podium team."
"Argentina was unfortunate not to make it in the round-of-eight (quarterfinals) but that's a podium team. They can win a medal here in the world championship,'' said Jarin.
The Argentinians advanced to the battle for ninth to 12th places against Greece while the Filipinos next face Egypt on Friday.
"Argentina, they're scared the entire game. We got Egypt tomorrow and we will just keep on fighting,'' said Jarin.
A victory over the Egyptians will set up Batang Gilas for a matchup against the winner of the Japan-United Arab Emirates tussle for 13th place on Saturday.
Argentina 84 - Mas Delfino 20, Carvalho 16, Merchant 14, Delfino 10, Zurbriggen 7, Fernandez 6, Aliende 3, Riego 2, Fjellerup 2, Gallardo 2, Borsatti 2, Onetto 0.
Philippines 71 - Go 27, Dela Cruz 14, Mi. Nieto 11, Desiderio 10, Ma. Nieto 7, Navarro 2, Dario 0, Padilla 0, Abadeza 0, Escoto 0.
Quarterscores: 22-14, 35-27, 62-46, 84-71