JR Lopez Gonzales 8:54 AM 0
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine national basketball team Gilas Pilipinas, wins against long-time nemesis South Korea, 86-79, in the semi-finals round of the 27th FIBA Asia Championships at the jam-packed Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, last night.
With the win, Gilas Pilipinas will be facing Iran for the finals and earns a secured slot in the FIBA World's Championship Cup in Spain next year.
In the past two decades, the country has fallen prey to the South Korean “curse”. In 1986 Seoul Asiad, the Samboy Lim and Allan Caidic-led national team has fallen to a 102-103 semifinal game to Korea. In the 2002 Asian Games battle for the bronze medal, with the Philippines on a slim two-point lead, Korean Lee Sang Min faked off two defenders to sink a buzzer-beating triple sealing the game at 69-68.
There are a few other losses to Korean basketball team and the last time the Philippines made an appearance in the FIBA Basketball World Cup was still in 1978. But this South Korean jinx was finally broken last night with the 12-man Philippine roster led by Coach Vincent "Chot" Reyes.
It was a see-saw match where one team goes on top of the other. Marc Pingris scored down low to reclaim the lead for Gilas at the 7-minute mark, but Cho Sungmin scored his first three-point shot for a 7-5 lead. Larry Fonacier sends a floater at the 3:28 to put the home team ahead anew.
Jimmy Alapag nailed a triple at the 5:00 mark of the second to get to within 2 points, but Gilas had to replace Douthit out as he re-injured his left leg. Upon going back to the bench, Douthit can be seen disappointed as he would never return to play due to his badly-injured left leg. The second quarter was ended with a three-point lead in favor of S. Korea, 36-39.
In the third quarter, Jayson Castro (William) carried the country, transforming the 3-point halftime deficit to a nine-point edge. He scored on two straight layups to give the Philippines a 40-39 lead, before converting on another acrobatic drive at 7:35 to give Philippines a 3-point lead. Pingris then added a tip-in, followed by a Castro triple to bring the packed 18,631 MOA crowd into a frenzy. The NBA D-League draftee Japeth Aguilar slamdunks in front of the Korean giants to end the third quarter with Gilas ahead, 65-56.
But the resilient South Koreans bounced back in the early salvo of the final frame led by Mingoo Kim who shot from all angles. Showing a quick recovery, the Koreans brought the lead down to a single point at 4:40 as Mingoo Kim completed a devastating four-point play. It was quickly followed by a Seung Jun Lee slam at 4:18, for their lead, 76-73.
Team Captain Jimmy Alapag gave Gilas back the lead with a triple with 3:01 left in the game, but Tae-Sool Kim quickly jumped back with a jump shot to settle the score at 77-76 in favor of Koreans. Ranidel De Ocampo scored a layup to continue the pendulum battle. With the seconds dwindling down, Pingris stole the ball, which led to a De Ocampo trey for an 81-77 Gilas lead sending the Filipino crowd into frenzy once more.
Jimmy Alapag, shoots a double cold-blooded triples to secure wide lead over So. Korea to close the game, 86-79.
Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes cries in joy with the spectacular display of Filipino basketball prowess.
"Our motivation coming into this game was simple: get into the finals and make the Philippines proud. I told the boys, let's expect to win the game; and not talk about the past.", he said in a post-match interview.
Philippines vs. South Korea Scores:
Philippines (86) - Castro 17, Pingris 16, Alapag 14, De Ocampo 11, Tenorio 9, Aguilar 8, Chan 5, Fonacier 2, Norwood 2, Douthit 2, David 0, Fajardo 0.
Korea (79) - Kim M. 27, Yang 11, Kim JS. 11, Lee S. 10, Lee J. 10, Cho 6, Kim S. 2, Kim T. 2.
First Quarter: 15-19; Second Quarter: 36-39; Third Quarter: 65-56; Fourth Quarter: 86-79