TAIPEI - South Korea won its first game in the 37th Jones Cup basketball tournament on Monday night, sending an error-prone Gilas Pilipinas crashing back to earth with an 82-70 victory at the Xinzhuang Stadium.
The Koreans once again unleashed their vaunted outside shooting in the second half, going on a late 11-0 run to break open a close game and deal the Filipinos their first loss in this nine-nation tournament.
Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva kept Gilas afloat in the endgame, but one too many turnovers and a critical five-minute stretch where the Filipinos couldn't buy a basket weighed them down in the end.
Lee Seung Hyun led the Koreans with 19 points while naturalized player Moon Taeyoung added 17 points and nine rebounds as Korea dealt Gilas a deflating defeat, just a day after an impressive debut in a 77-69 win over host Chinese Taipei.
"I'm not happy with our effort in the first half. It got better in the second half but our offense is not there yet. We don't have the flow. We're still individualistic at this point," said Gilas coach Tab Baldwin.
Despite the defeat, Gilas remained in the hunt for the championship which will go the team with the best record at the end of the tournament, with the quotient system coming into play in case of ties.
Romeo led Gilas in scoring for the second successive game, scoring 23 points including a floater off Korea's 7-3 center Ha Seungjin that was replayed a couple of times in the giant screen inside the stadium.
Gary David added 16 points in his best game for Gilas 3.0 while Abueva added nine points and six boards in 14:28 minutes despite spending a lot of time on the bench because of foul trouble.
Romeo went 3-of-4 from three-point range and David 3-of-5, but the rest of the team went 2-for-13 from the distance.
Their inability to hit those outside shots hurt all the more in the endgame when the Koreans went to a zone defense. They ended up going on an 11-0 run that broke the game wide open, 69-58, with 4:49 to go.
The Filipinos also got beat up off the boards, 34-43, by the Koreans after playing with a short lineup that had Marc Pingris and Ranidel de Ocampo at the paint due to foul trouble to Moala Tautuaa and Asi Taulava.
Another big man, Sonny Thoss, was not part of Baldwin's 12-man lineup for the game.
Gilas also made 14 turnovers, most of them coming in the fourth quarter, and only had seven assists to Korea's 20.
Korea 82 - Lee Seung Hyun 19, Moon 17, Lee Jong Hyun 12, Lee Jong Hyun 11, Kim 8, Park 6, Kim S. H. 5, Ha 2, Kim T. S. 2, Lee J. H. 1
Gilas 70 - Romeo 23, David 16, Abueva 9, Castro 7, de Ocampo 5, Taulava 4, Tautuaa 2, Intal 2, Ramos 2, Pingris 0, Norwood 0, Alapag 0
Quarterscores: 20-21; 36-34; 54-54; 82-70