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    Can Gilas sustain perfect record vs Korea at home?

    Jun 9, 2021
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño

    NO question, Gilas Pilipinas will be fighting for pride when the third window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers roll on next week.

    Despite needing only one victory to formally qualify for the continental tilt, for sure the youthful national team will be coming out ablaze and will be eager to protect home court in Clark.

    And it's not just because the series of games will serve as the debut of naturalized center Ange Kouame.

    Looking back at the history books, the Philippines has never lost a home game to Korea, going on a perfect 6-0 slate whenever they meet in Manila.

    The first was in the 1954 Asian Games when the Philippine team, bannered by legends Carlos Loyzaga and Lauro Mumar, won two games over Korea.

    After taking down Singapore and Cambodia, the Filipinos finished Group A of the preliminary rounds with an emphatic 84-45 victory over the Koreans to advance to the final round spotless.

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    The two teams met again in the next phase, but the result was the same, a 76-52 thumping in the final round before Team Philippines took down China to capture the gold medal.

    Among the members of that team include Bayani Amador, Florentino Bautista, Jose Maria Cacho, Napoleon Flores, Antonio Genato, Rafael Hechanova, Eduardo Lim, Ramon Manulat, Francisco Rabat, Ignacio Ramos, Ponciano Saldaña, and Mariano Tolentino.

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    Korea, meanwhile, finished fourth in the tilt, losing its other two final round assignments against silver medalists China and bronze medalists Japan.


      Six years later, the two teams faced off anew in the inaugural staging of the ABC Championship in 1960, now known as the Fiba Asia Cup.

      Charlie Badion led the charge for the Filipinos in the continental tilt as he was joined in the team by Loyzaga, Kurt Bachmann, Loreto Carbonell, and Eduardo Lim.

      The two nations met in the seven-team round robin preliminary rounds and the Philippines once again gained the upper hand with a 97-79 win on its way to complete a 6-0 sweep.

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      A rematch was quickly set in the first game of the four-team final round, but Badion and company were just too much, besting the Koreans anew, 96-82.

      The Philippines went on a perfect 9-0 in that campaign to capture the gold medal, with Badion named as the Tournament MVP and Loyzaga part of the All-Star Five. Korea, on the other hand, only finished with a 3-6 slate to wound up fourth.

      It took 13 years before the two nations met again in our home shores during the 1973 ABC Championship.

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      Team Philippines was then a collection of the top guns the country has to offer, with Bogs Adornado, Ramon Fernandez, Robert Jaworski, Francis Arnaiz, and Abet Guidaben headlining the roster.

      Also part of that Tito Eduque-coached national team are Big Boy Reynoso, Jimmy Mariano, Tembong Melencio, Joy Cleofas, Manny Paner, Yoyong Martirez, and David Regullano.

      The Philippines didn't meet Korea until the six-team round robin championship round, with their final face-off deciding who will come away with the gold medal.

      But Adornado, who was adjudged as the Tournament MVP, would not be denied as he steered the home team to a 90-78 conquest to secure the gold and relegate the Koreans to a silver medal finish.

      Not only did the victory complete the Filipinos' 10-0 romp at home, it also punched them a ticket to the 1974 Fiba World Championship in Puerto Rico, the lone Asian country to advance to that year's World Cup.

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      Nearly four decades later, stakes also couldn't be any higher when the Philippines and Korea faced off in a jampacked Mall of Asia Arena.

      It was the semifinals of the 2013 Fiba Asia Championship with the winner assured of a spot in the 2014 Fiba World Cup in Spain.

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      But the hosts came through anew, with Jayson Castro, Jimmy Alapag, Marc Pingris, and Gabe Norwood all having their heroic moments to lead Gilas Pilipinas to an emotional 86-79 victory over Korea.

      The Philippines settled for a silver medal finish after a loss to Iran in the gold medal game, but that ended the country's years of heartbreaks against its old rival.

      Also part of that Chot Reyes-mentored Philippine team were LA Tenorio, Jeff Chan, Gary David, Ranidel de Ocampo, Larry Fonacier, Japeth Aguilar, June Mar Fajardo, and naturalized player Marcus Douthit, who was injured during the game.

      Castro rightfully earned his spot in the tourney's All-Star Five, while Korea took consolation with the bronze medal to also book its ticket to the global hoops tilt.


        And now, here we are, eight years later under extraordinary times as the young Gilas Pilipinas team will be battling an experienced Korean side led by Ra Gun-A (formerly known as Ricardo Ratliffe).

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        The Philippine team is set for a clash against the Koreans on June 16 and 20.

        It's a tall task for the crew, which is expected to depend on the likes of Dwight Ramos, Justine Baltazar, and Kouame, but no question, whatever the stakes are, the Filipinos will be fighting tooth-and-nail to preserve that immaculate streak against Korea at home.

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        PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño
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