Gilas Pilipinas escapes South Korea on Belangel game-winner

SJ Belangel nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift Gilas Pilipinas Men past South Korea, 81-78, in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers on Wednesday in Clark, Pampanga.

It was Gilas’ first win over South Korea since beating them in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship in Manila.

Belangel finished the game with 13 points, including the game-winning, off-balanced 3-pointer that came off an out of bounds play.

“So Dwight took the first available option, and that was SJ, and SJ just made a play,” Gilas coach Tab Baldwin explained after the game.

“So I mean yes, he was an option, but really just an entry option just to get the ball inbounds. …I mean it’s, it’s one of those ones that you see every now and then and everybody enjoys it, except the other team.”

Baldwin also praised his players for coming out with more fire in the second half after trailing by as much as 17 points early.

“I don’t think there’s any question that these young guys are going to compete. There is always going to be a question about how our talent can stand up to an opponent’s talent, or how our lack of experience can stand up to the experience of another team, but not their heart and not their desire to fight,” he added.

“It was exciting. I mean, you know, it’s a shame that we didn’t have 20,000 people in the MOA Arena watching that. But what we did have, we had a country behind us. We could feel how much the country wanted something positive, and I think we were all extremely proud to be able to bring them something surprising. It’s a great moment for Filipino basketball.”

Dwight Ramos led the national team with 16 markers, while Kai Sotto had 11 points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench.

Ra GunA led the Korean team with a double-double of 24 points and 15 boards.

Gilas, now 4-0 in the tournament, will play Indonesia next on Friday at 6 p.m.

The Scores

PHILIPPINES 81 — Ramos 16, Belangel 13, Kouame 12, Sotto 11, Tamayo 10, Abarrientos 6, Baltazar 6, Go 4, Nieto 3, Navarro 0, Tungcab 0.

KOREA 78 — Ra 24, Lee HJ 15, Lee SH 9, Jeon 9, Kang 7, Moon 6, Yang 4, Kim 2, Lee DS 2, Byeon 0.

Quarters: 12-21, 36-44, 56-57, 81-78