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Battle Royale: Gilas vs Korea

Game Today
(Nouhad Nawfal Sports
Complex, Beirut)
11:30 p.m. – Philippines vs South Korea

Gilas Pilipinas will have to go through one of its biggest basketball enemies in South Korea as it seeks a semifinals berth today in the knockout quarterfinals of the FIBA Asia Cup at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Beirut, Lebanon.

Despite breezing into the quarters with three stirring wins over China, Iraq and Qatar in Group B to avoid the tougher task of beating either Australia and New Zealand in the other knockout brackets, Gilas was placed in a tricky situation of having to beat the Koreans in the 11:30 p.m. Manila time duel.

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South Korea arranged a showdown with Gilas after pulling away in the fourth quarter to beat Japan, 81-68, in Monday’s playoff round between the third placer of Group C and the second-ranked team of Group D.

It will be the first meeting of the Philippines and South Korea in the FIBA Asia tournament since the memorable 2013 semifinal win of Gilas at the Mall of Asia Arena that earned the country a stint in the FIBA World Cup the following year.

But Gilas has never beaten South Korea since, losing in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and the 2015 and 2017 William Jones Cup in Taiwan – the latter year seeing the Cadets squad falling 83-72 last month.

Gilas coach Chot Reyes hopes to see a much-healthier squad with several of his key players are dealing with injuries before and during the preliminary round.

Six-foot-eight Christian Standhardinger, who has been impressive for Gilas at the middle, sat out Sunday’s 80-74 win over Qatar because of pain around his right neck and shoulder, Calvin Abueva hurt his left ankle after slipping during a fastbreak play while June Mar Fajardo continues to recover from a strained right calf that was diagnosed before the national team left for the Lebanese capital.

Fajardo and Abueva sat out Tuesday’s practice, but there are promising signs that the former could finally suit up for Gilas with the stakes getting higher.

Terrence Romeo, Matthew Wright and Jayson Castro look to continue their good showing from the preliminaries and carry Gilas to a semifinal clash with either Iran or host Lebanon on Saturday.

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