By Adrian Stewart Co
Gilas Pilipinas showed their victory against South Korea earlier last week was no fluke after an 82-77 beating at the close of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers third window yesterday at the AUF Gym in Clark, Pampanga.
Dwight Ramos drilled five triples and finished with 19 points to go with five assists, three rebounds and two steals as the national men’s basketball team ended their Group A matches with a perfect 6-0 win-loss slate.
Kai Sotto added 10 markers and seven rebounds, while Filipino-Australian guard Jordan Heading and Rhon Jay Abarrientos also ended with 10 markers apiece for the Tab Baldwin-mentored crew.
Clinging to a slim 63-62 lead midway in the fourth period, Gilas got consecutive hits from Heading followed by a three-pointer from George Isaac Go for a 71-67 advantage.
A three pointer by Ramos followed by a floater by Negrense Samjosef Belangel widened Gilas’ lead to 77-71 but the Koreans answered with a triple from Yang Hongsek and a free throw by Ricardo Ratliffe to cut the deficit to 75-77.
From a broken play, the Philippines increased the advantage to 79-75 on a dunk by Justine Baltazar, but the Koreans made it a 77-79 contest with 31 seconds left on an inside basket from Ratliffe.
The Koreans, however, committed an unsportsmanlike foul on Belangel which led to the latter’s split free throws before Ramos secured the victory for the Philippines with two freebies.
Ratliffe finished the game with double-double 20 points and 13 rebounds, Lee Hyunjung added 13 markers and eight rebounds, while Yang contributed 12 points for the Koreans, which finished the qualifiers with 4-2 slate.
This was the second time in less than a week that Gilas Pilipinas was able to defeat their Asian rivals. The national team escaped with an 81-78 triumph on Wednesday, June 16, via a bank shot by Belangel at the buzzer.
PHILIPPINES 82 – Ramos 19, Sotto 10, Heading 10, Abarrientos 10, Navarro 8, Kouame 7, Baltazar 6, Belangel 6, Nieto 3, Go 3, Chiu 0.
SOUTH KOREA 77 – Ratliffe 20, H. Lee 13, Yang 12, D. Lee 9, S. Lee 8, Kim 8, Yeo 2, Byeon 2, Ha 0.
Quarterscores: 18-20, 38-34, 56-54, 82-77./ASC, WDJ