By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE Philippines saw its promising run at the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon come to a screeching end early yesterday morning after it was routed by old nemesis South Korea, 118-86, in the quarterfinals of the high-profile continental basketball tournament.
Failing to stop the South Koreans’ fluid offense, Gilas Pilipinas scrambled all game long en route to bowing out of contention, a turnaround from the solid start it had in the Cup that had it sweeping all its three games in group play.
The Koreans’ guns were ablaze right from the start, outscoring Gilas, 11-6, in the first five minutes of the match, towed by crisp passing and shooting.
Christian Standhardinger, back for Gilas after missing their previous game, led a rally back to seize the lead, 16-15, with two minutes to go. It was, however, the last time the Philippines would take the lead as South Korea maintained its distance the rest of the way.
The first quarter ended with the Koreans holding a 26-18 lead.
At the start of the second period, the South Koreans attempted to pull away but guard Terrence Romeo, Gilas’ leader in scoring in the tournament, would keep the Philippines in the match, scoring 22 of the team’s total 31 points in the frame behind a torrid six-of-nine shooting from beyond the arc.
The Koreans though would still be up, 57-49, at the halftime break.
In the third quarter, the South Koreans finally succeeded in what they failed in the previous canto of blowing the game wide open.
Displaying precise marksmanship that came from different directions, the Koreans kept Gilas guessing en route to taking a 24-point cushion heading into the final quarter, 86-62.
Despite holding a commanding lead, the Koreans kept steady amid a last-ditch stand from Gilas in the payoff period and continued to lord it over Gilas up to the final buzzer.
When the battle smoke cleared, game numbers showed the domination that South Korea had over the Philippines.
It shot better both in two-point — 62% to 46% — and three-point — 76% to 44% — land; had more assists, 34-14; had more rebounds, 34-30; more fastbreak points, 17-7; more steals, 9-2; and more blocks, 4-2.
Sekeun Oh led Korea’s balanced attack with 22 points and five rebounds while Sunhyung Kim had 21 points.
Big man Jongkyu Kim had 15 and Seounghyun Lee finished with 14 points.
Mr. Romeo was the high point man anew for Gilas with 22 points, all in the second period, while Mr. Standhardinger had 17 points.
RR Pogoy and Jayson William (Castro) wound up with 12 and 11 points, respectively, while Japeth Aguilar ended with seven points and nine rebounds.
Next big tournament for Gilas Pilipinas is the FIBA World Cup qualifier which will begin in November.