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Gilas hero Belangel recounts epic game-winner vs Korea

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Gilas hero Belangel recounts epic game-winner vs Korea
SJ Belangel (27) celebrates with his teammates after making a game-winner against South Korea on Wednesday
SBP / FIBA

MANILA, Philippines — Gilas Pilipinas guard Samjosef "SJ" Belangel didn't expect his game-winning shot to hit its mark Wednesday night against South Korea in their FIBA Asia qualifying match at the AUF Gym. 

"I didn't expect it to go in because it was a difficult shot," he said in an interview aired over CNN Philippines Sports Desk after Gilas Pilipinas shocked South Korea, 81-78. 

Belangel said he wasn't even supposed to take the off-balanced leaning 3-pointer, after South Korea's stout defense got over the screen designed by Tab Baldwin to get Carl Tamayo open. 

Both teams found themselves in a dog fight all game long, with the scrappy Gilas side having to play catch-up for most of the game after finding itself down by as much as 17. 

With the clock winding down and both teams tied at 78, a scrappy Lee Seounghyun managed to catch up to SJ and contest his shot on the wing, almost guaranteeing an overtime period.

Off-balance and under duress, the 21-year-old Belangel hoisted up a desperate Hail Mary anyway, and the unthinkable happened: it went in.

The eight-year Korean curse was finally broken. The young but disciplined Gilas Pilipinas took the win, and they were heading to the FIBA Asia Cup in Indonesia. 

RELATED: Belangel hits off-balanced game-winner as Gilas stuns Korea

"Having that moment yesterday, that was the most memorable moment for me as of now in my basketball career," he said proudly. 

The Blue Eagle finished with 13 points along with the game-winner.

Despite his moment of glory, the Gilas point guard said the team wasn't content to rest on its laurels from here on out. 

"I will grade my game as 'good,' but there's still a lot to improve on, not just for myself, but for my team as well," he said in mixed Filipino and English. 

For SJ, there's still more work to be done moving forward, especially when it faces Korea for a second bout.

"The rivalry is still there. We know they'll want revenge, and they don't give up easily. But we'll be prepared. We've already seen their game plan."

"We want that trophy in our hand. We want to be champions and to make everyone proud of our country. That's our ultimate goal."

GILAS PILIPINAS
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