Gilas Pilipinas and South Korea are set to renew their rivalry as they face off in the quarterfinals of 2017 FIBA Asia Cup. The Philippines are still undefeated in the tournament while South Korea is on a three-game winning streak after dropping their opener. Fans should expect a really good game between the former rivals.
The Philippines had a two-day rest heading into their quarterfinals matchup against South Korea. Gilas Pilipinas finished the group phase with a 3-0 record after beating China, Iraq, and Qatar. It’s a surprising run for the Filipinos, who were missing the services of naturalized player Andray Blatche and star big man June Mar Fajardo.
They are coming off a hard-fought 80-74 victory against Qatar on Sunday, according to ABS-CBN News. Gilas Pilipinas only had 10 men during the game, with Fajardo still out with an injury and Christian Standhardinger rested due to a stiff neck. It was a total team effort as they fought off a late Qatar rally.
Matthew Wright led Gilas Pilipinas with 25 points off the bench with one rebound, four assists, and one steal. Wright got hot beyond the arc as he hit seven three-point shots, including a dagger late in the fourth quarter. Carl Bryan Cruz added 13 points and two rebounds in his best game for Gilas Pilipinas to date.
However, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes was not happy with his team’s performance against Qatar. Reyes had a stern warning to his players after the game. In post game huddle (h/t SPIN.ph), the head coach believes that if they play like that against South Korea or Japan, they are going home.
“You all know that if we had played Korea or Japan tonight, we would have been heading home. No way we’ll win like that. 17 turnovers. We shot less than 40 percent from the field. We couldn’t stop Mansour Elhadary.”
On the other hand, South Korea earned their ticket to the quarterfinals by defeating Japan on Monday in the qualifications. Ho Sekeun and Lee Seong Hyun both scored 16 points to help their team beat the Japanese, 81-68. The South Koreans had a slow start to the game, but they managed to pull away from Japan late in the game.
South Korea finished the group phase with a 2-1 record, but they fell to third because of the quotient system. They lost their opening game against Lebanon before defeating New Zealand, Kazakhstan, and Japan to earn the right to face the Philippines in the quarterfinals.
The Philippines has suffered a lot of heartbreaks against South Korea but it all ended with their victory at the 2013 FIBA Asia semifinals that sent the Filipinos to the 2014 FIBA World Cup. The last time Gilas Pilipinas and South Korea faced each other was at the 39th Jones Cup wherein the Koreans won, 83-72, against a bunch of Gilas cadets.
Gilas Pilipinas vs. South Korea is scheduled on Wednesday, August 16 at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Beirut, Lebanon. The game is set to the start at 8:30 a.m. PST/11:30 a.m. EST and 6:30 p.m. local time. Fans can also watch the game via live stream on Sports 5 Live and Live Basketball TV.
[Featured Image by Hussein Malla/AP Images]