By REYNALD MAGALLON
The Korean curse has been broken once more for Gilas Pilipinas this time, in the youth level.
The Gilas Pilipinas boys team finally ended the string of futility against South Korea in the youth level, coming away with a convincing 95-71 victory to advance to the quarterfinals of the FIBA U16 Asian Championship in the wee hours of Friday at the Al Gharafa Sports Hub in Doha, Qatar.
Joaquin Ludovice, scoring just a grand total of 20 points in the first three games, exploded for 25 points – 19 of which he poured in the first half, setting the tone for the rout that ended a nine-game losing streak against the Koreans in the U16 and U18 tournaments.
Gilas shot the lights out from deep all-game long, drilling 12 triples, typified by the seven makes from Ludovice who single handedly outgunned the entire Korean team which only had five treys in total.
Although taking the lead in the opening frame, 28-18, it was the blistering 17-0 run to open the second quarter that allowed the Nationals to seize complete control of the game and never relinquished it until the final horn.
Kurt Velasquez chipped in 17 points and seven rebounds while Bonn Ervin Daja added 13 points and 10 boards.
Kiefer Alas was held to just 11 points but still came up with a double-double after hauling down 13 rebounds. CJ Amos was the other double-digit scorer for Gilas with 10.
Daniel Edi led South Korea with 18 points but it was not enough to keep their streak going against the Filipinos.
Gilas is now one-win away from clinching the coveted spot to the FIBA U17 World Cup when it takes on Japan in the semifinals. The Akatsuki were still undefeated in the tournament after topping Group B with a perfect 3-0 record.