Gilas sweeps Korea
Gilas’ Justine Baltazar bravely challenges the defense of South Korea naturalized player Ra Gun-A.

Gilas sweeps Korea

Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - June 21, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — What fluke?

Fuelled by its desire to prove doubters wrong, Gilas Pilipinas put up an inspired performance to repeat over South Korea, 82-77, yesterday in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers at the AUF Gym in Pampanga.

Dwight Ramos scattered 19 points spiked by five triples, five assists, three rebounds and two steals as he anchored the highly-driven hosts to a blazing follow-up to their 81-78 squeaker last Wednesday.

It was some sort of statement for the Filipinos, who were fired up by Korea coach Cho Sang Hyun’s remarks about being “lucky” the first time.

“It was a little personal. We want to show we can hang with the big dogs like Korea,” said Ramos, whose clutch shots and hustle plays helped Gilas beat the Koreans not once but twice coming off a 0-5 record head-to-head the last eight years.

“It felt good to win but really the main thing about the game is to learn from it, gain experience from it. So win or lose, we would come out with more experience, more stuff to learn and improve on,” he said.

Gilas completed a six-game sweep in Pool A against Korea (4-2), Indonesia (2-4) and Thailand (0-6).

Earlier in the day, Indonesia clobbered Thailand, 86-69.

Kai Sotto backed up Ramos with 10 points and seven boards while RJ Abarrientos and Jordan Heading, who sat out the first matchup with Korea, also scored 10 apiece.

“We played well overall. We didn’t really come out the way we wanted to (and faced an early 0-9 deficit) but we kept fighting, we kept at it and that’s how the game went,” said Ramos.

Gilas coach Tab Baldwin credited Gilas’ hardwork in grabbing 20 offensive rebounds, extracting 19 points off turnovers, limiting themselves to seven errors and holding Korea to only three fastbreak points.

“I think that tells the story that a pretty good formula for beating South Korea is when you hold their transition game down, you don’t turn the ball over, and you get on the board,” he said.

“I’m particularly happy with our first half defense. I think we really did a good job, it set the tone that we’re gonna be competitive throughout the game and we’re gonna be there at the end one way or another,” he added.

Gilas led by as many as nine at 43-34 early in the third and kept its poise in the face of Korea’s repeated uprising. SJ Belangel, who hit the marginal trey at the buzzer last time, hit a free throw to restore an 80-77 cushion with 25.5 seconds left. Ramos had a pair of splits to seal the deal.

, to finish third in the group with 8 points on a 2-4 win-loss record.

Lester Prosper punched in 22-11 while Andakara Dhyaksa (19) and Abraham Grahita (15) made significant contributions as the Indonesians claimed their lone victory in the Clark bubble.

The Thais wound up winless in six games.

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