TAIPEI - Gilas Pilipinas struggled to find its rhythm and its touch against a menacing South Korean defense on Wednesday, dropping an 83-72 setback that all but killed its title bid in the 39th Jones Cup at the Taipei Heping Gymnasium.
The Filipinos never really got untracked against a Korean zone defense that dared shooters Matthew Wright and Roger Pogoy to shoot, leaving Gilas to rely on import Mike Myers and point guard Jio Jalalon just to stay afloat.
"Idon't have the stats but I think we shot one-for-sixty five tonight," said Gilas coach Chot Reyes. "Our defense was good enough, we held a good team like Korea to 82 points. That would've been enough to win but we just couldn't hit our three-point shots."
In truth, Gilas made just one of 26 attempts from three-point distance.
Wright, who had made over 50 percent of his three-point shots in Gilas' first four games, went 0-of-7 from three-point land this time while Pogoy went 0-of-5 against the Korean zone.
Kiefer Ravena (0-of-4), Rayray Parks (0-of-3) and Kevin Ferrer (0-of-3) didn't do any better as Gilas fell to 3-2 (win-loss) - a position that will make it difficult - and almost impossible - to shoot for a championship with four games left in its schedule.
"They practically dared us to shoot," Reyes rued. "We just couldn't hit our shots."
Gilas made its biggest run in the final three minutes, cutting what once stood as a 17-point Korean lead at 49-66 to just four points at 69-73 on a follow-up dunk by import Mike Myers with 2:11 to go.
But the Filipinos' hopes were doused just as fast by back-to-back baskets by Korean big man Oh Sekeun, 77-69.
Jalalon proved to be the silver lining for Gilas, finishing with a game-high 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go with three rebounds, one assist, and one steal. He also hit the team's lone three-pointer in the game.
Gilas trailed by as many as 11 points, 18-29, in the first half but caught fire behind Christian Standhardinger and Kiefer Ravena, who led the team back behind a late windup.
The Filipinos got as close as 35-36 but three free throws awarded to Korea for technicals slapped on Gilas for complaining about a foul called on Ravena and a late three-pointer allowed the Koreans to keep a 42-37 edge at halftime.
Korea 83 - Oh Sekeun 14, Lee Jhung Yun 14, Choi Jun Yong 11, Kim Sun Hyung 8, Heo Hoon 6, Lim Dong Seob 6, Lee Seoung Hyun 6, Lee Jong Hyun 5, Kim Jong Kyu 2, Jeon JUn Beon 0.
Gilas 72 - Jalalon 18, Myers 18, Standhardinger 16, Ravena 8, Parks 4, Wright 4, Pogoy 2, Tolomia 0, Jose 0, Ferrer 0.
Quarterscores: 20-16, 42-37, 66-51, 83-72