MANILA, Philippines - Energen Pilipinas hopes to hurdle a tall South Korean side tonight at the start of the quarterfinal round of the 22nd FIBA Asia Under-18 Championship at the Buyant Ukhaa Arena in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.
The Filipinos survived Bahrain, 99-72, but ended up third in their group after Chinese Taipei stunned Iran, 78-77, in overtime last Wednesday.
The win lined up the Energen youth against the dreaded Koreans, who finished second in the other bracket following a 102-107 loss to the mighty Chinese, also in overtime.
“I haven’t seen a Korean youth team this big... they’re almost as tall as China,” said Energen Pilipinas coach Olsen Racela.
Although Smart Gilas II rallied to edge South Korea in the Jones Cup a couple of days ago in Taiwan, the Phl has had a string of heartbreakers against the SoKor national teams, including a 58-67 defeat Racela’s charges suffered in the second FIBA-Asia U16 tilt in Vietnam last year.
Racela was also part of an all-pro Phl squad that blew what had appeared to be a won match in the 2002 Busan Asian Games.
Another all-pro team, the Powerade Pilipinas, took an 80-82 setback to drop to seventh place in the 2009 FIBA-Asia Championship in Tianjin, China.
The Phl also dropped 66-74 quarterfinal loss in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, the 70-78 defeat in the elimination round of the 2011 Jones Cup in Chinese Taipei and the 68-70 setback for the bronze in the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championship in Wuhan, China by the Smart Gilas Pilipinas.
The other quarters duels pit Chinese Taipei, which Energen beat, 88-83, in the group stages, against Japan, Iran, which routed the Phl, 92-73, versus Lebanon and defending champion China against Saudi Arabia.