Believe, play without fear, play without intimidation.
All these the Gilas Pilipinas young guns did in a whale of a fight barely survived by world No. 5 and host team Serbia, 83-76, in their Olympic qualifier matchup Wednesday night (early Thursday morning in Manila) in Belgrade.
Filipino cage fans stayed awake in ungodly hours, stayed glued on TV and stood witness to the fearlessness and boldness of the Gilas boys hanging around versus the Rio Games silver medalists.
But Serbia escaped through and thus advanced to the semifinals while sending Gilas to a do-or-die setto with the Dominican Republic.
Both at 1-1 in Group A, the Filipinos and their Dominican Republic rivals clash for a semis seat versus the winner in the Italy-Puerto Rico matchup in Group B.
Minus top gun Dwight Ramos (with an injured groin), Gilas pushed Serbia to the limit, with the Nationals even enjoying the lead at 73-72 with just 3:50 left in the game.
But as he did in their 94-76 win over the Dominican Republic, 7-foot-4 center Boban Marjanovik took charge in the crunch and saved the Serbians from what could have been a big embarrassment.