Once something of an effective regional and international contender in basketball, the Philippines has since not been able to replicate these early successes nowadays. While capable of rudely surprising the competition with some spectacular victories in tight matches, Gilas Pilipinas often ends up being a chew toy to the current basketball Asian powerhouses like China and Korea. For a time, it was felt that the national team might stand a chance with some NBA talent. This 2018 at the Asian Games the dream came true with star Jordan Clarkson. Even then, two games with him on board were hard-fought losses.
ESPN 5 reports that this Monday, August 27, South Korea has re-imposed their dreaded “Korean Curse” on team Philippines after thrashing Gilas Pilipinas at the men’s basketball quarterfinals of the 2018 Asiad. Despite the fierce efforts of the team, with scoring led by Christian Standhardinger and Jordan Clarkson himself, the Koreans effectively shut down any attempt to establish and grow leads by their uncanny 3-point shooting skills, which also helped them extend any leads they got. There were several lead changes in the game before South Korea dashed Filipino hopes and dreams by winning with a 91-82 score in four.
One of the main weapons Korea had against Gilas Pilipinas was something of a familiar sight for viewers of the Philippine Basketball Assocation (PBA). This was Ricardo Ratliffe, who was formerly a PBA import for the Star Hotshots before eventually being naturalized as a South Korean (assuming the name Ra Gun-ah) in January 2018 in order to play for that country. He was king of scoring and rebounding during the game, outstripping Clarkson 30-25 and Standhardinger 14-9, respectively. Furthermore, a string of mishandling at court saw the biggest lead by Gilas against the opposition, 44-38, reduced to 44-42 before halftime.
Head coach Yeng Guiao was quick to assume responsibility for the defeat. In his assessment, he had not been able to sufficiently prepare the players for the Koreans’ zone (rather than the familiar man-to-man) defense, insane three-pointers, and Ratliffe. “We just weren’t comfortable with the zone,” Guiao remarked on zone-def. “Even Jordan (Clarkson) had a lot of problems dealing with it. They just zoned us all game long. They stuck with the zone, lived and died with the zone, and we couldn’t adjust in time.” The team will now have to contend with the classification stage where they at least stand to finish higher than their 2014 finish in Incheon.
While no medals will be coming for men’s basketball in this Asian Games, the Philippines still managed to grab gold elsewhere. The women’s golf team racked up two gold medals to add to the existing one plus 12 bronze attained.
Image courtesy of INQUIRER.net