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    Whatever happened to 12 brave Gilas players who ended Korean curse

    Aug 9, 2020

    SEVEN years ago, the Philippines pulled off one of its biggest victories when it exorcised the Korean curse, 86-79, in the semifinals of the 2013 Fiba Asia Championship.

    Not only was it sweet revenge against a longtime tormentor, the win also handed Gilas a ticket to the 2014 Fiba World Cup for the first time in 36 years.

    Memories of that game are still one of the most fondly remembered by basketball afficionados, and a treasured accomplishment for the national team.

    As we look back on that monumental triumph, Spin.ph profiles the 12 brave players of that team, more than a half-decade since that incredible conquest at Mall of Asia Arena.


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    Marcus Douthit

    Everyone's heart skipped a beat when Douthit limped off the floor after banging knees with Lee Jong-hyun with six minutes left in the second quarter. That injury left Gilas without its top scorer and top rebounder.

    Yet Douthit's absence proved to be the team's catalyst as the Philippines rallied around the Providence College product, with coach Chot Reyes saying after the game: "Marcus has been carrying us for so long. Now it’s our turn to carry him, that we got his back."

    Douthit was unable to play in the gold medal game against Iran the following day, but he finished the tournament with a team-best 11.9 points on a 43-percent shooting from the field, on top of 9.4 rebounds (tied for 3rd-best in the tilt) and a tourney-best 2.0 blocks.

    He gave way to Andray Blatche for the 2014 Fiba World Cup in Spain, yet was called up at the last minute to play for the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, where he infamously scored an own goal in a desperate attempt to force overtime against Kazakhstan.

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    Douthit returned to the PBA in the 2015 Commissioner's Cup for Blackwater, while also being routinely called up for Mighty Sports in its various international tilts.

    He has since played sporadically in the region, lastly in Thailand, while also tending to his various businesses.


    Jayson Castro William

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    Castro spearheaded Gilas' balanced attack with 17 points in that emotional win over Korea and went on to be hailed as the best point guard in Asia.

    Such was the case for the TNT slasher all tournament long as he led the locals with his 11.8 points (17th best in the tourney), while also being the Philippines' best playmaker with 3.3 assists.

    Castro's lore just grew from there as he cemented his status as one of the best guards of the past decade while being a staple of the national teams, including another All-Tournament Team nod in the 2015 edition in Changsha.

    His hot form carried over to the PBA, steering the KaTropa to the 2015 Commissioner's Cup crown while also being part of five Mythical First Team selections, as well as four more Best Player of the Conference awards to hike his total to five.

    Until now, Castro remains at the top of his game for TNT.

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    Jimmy Alapag

    The shot heard around the nation. And it was all courtesy of Alapag.

    The Gilas captain buried one of the biggest treys in national team history - a long bomb with 54 seconds left in the game that pushed the Philippines up, 84-79.

    Alapag's numbers, where he averaged 7.3 points and 2.1 assists, didn't really stand out from the bunch, but it was his leadership and clutch genes which made him an irreplaceable piece of this squad.

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    He originally intended the 2014 Fiba World Cup to be his last hurrah in international competition, yet came back for one last run in the 2014 Asian Games following Castro's injury.

    Alapag played three more seasons in the PBA, and moved from TNT to Meralco in his final season before his retirement.

    He has since forayed into coaching, winning the 2018 ASEAN Basketball League crown at the helm of San Miguel Alab Pilipinas, while also working as an assistant for Leo Austria in the San Miguel Beermen camp since 2019.


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    Marc Pingris

    Pingris personified Gilas' puso battlecry, showing tremendous heart despite playing undersized in the paint.

    And in that fateful game against Korea, the Pozorrubio, Pangasinan native canned the game-icing putback off a Castro's miss with 20.7 left.

    Pingris only scored 4.7 points a game on a 65.5-percent field goal shooting in the tilt, but his 5.3 rebound-mark was the best among the locals, one that came in handy following Douthit's injury.

    His run of success didn't stop there as he carried San Mig Coffee to the 2013 Governors' Cup crown which was the precursor to its Grand Slam run in the 2014 season. He was also hailed as the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 and 2014.

    Pingris still played for Gilas up to the 2015 Fiba Asia Championship and in the 2016 Fiba OIympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT), before his surprise callup to the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers pool earlier this year.

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    Ranidel de Ocampo

    Many recall Alapag's gutsy shot, but if not for de Ocampo's late-game heroics, it would've been a different story.

    RDO strung up five successive points to flip a 77-76 deficit to an 81-77 lead with 1:31 remaining. He famously wept during the postgame press conference, typifying the boatload of emotions Gilas was carrying to the game.

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    De Ocampo was one of the team's best snipers with his 8.2 points on a 41.7 percent clip from threes, while also adding 4.0 rebounds. His presence was integral for Gilas in the years to come, including in the 2015 offing in Changsha.

    Locally, the Tanza, Cavite native continued to play at his best, winning the Best Player of the Conference award in the 2014 Governors' Cup as he helped TNT capture the 2015 Commissioner's Cup crown.

    However, he was traded from TNT to Meralco in 2017 as he battled a bevy of injuries before formally retiring in April. The KaTropa, however, has hired him as an assistant coach for the upcoming season.

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    Gabe Norwood

    Norwood was Gilas' Swiss army knife in the tourney, posting 6.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.0 block.

    And it's no surprise that he logged the most minutes for the team in the 2013 tilt, clocking 27 minutes per outing as Reyes always looked at him as a plus for the Philippines.

    Norwood's moment of glory, however, came a year after in the 2014 Fiba World Cup where he posterized Argentinian forward Luis Scola twice.

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    The Fil-Am swingman's versatility has made him a keeper for the national team, as seen in him taking the cudgels for the national team's captaincy up to the 2019 Fiba World Cup.

    And Rain or Shine continues to enjoy those gifts Norwood brings to the table as he was named to the All-Defensive team for six consecutive seasons from 2013 to 2018, as well as the Sportsmanship Awardee from 2017 to 2019.

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    Jeff Chan

    Chan was Gilas' best gunner in the tournament, making 47.6-percent of his shots from deep to average 9.1 points. His proficiency from long distance made him a no-brainer choice for the 2014 Fiba World Cup.

    The Negrense sharpshooter continued his hot form in the PBA, helping Rain or Shine capture the 2016 Commissioner's Cup.

    A season later, Chan found himself on the move as he was traded to Phoenix.

    In 2018, Ginebra traded for the veteran shooter where he added two more championships to his haul.

    Chan's last tour of duty for the national team, however, came in the 2016 Fiba OQT where the Philippines finished sixth.

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    LA Tenorio

    At 5-foot-9, Tenorio was the shortest in the Gilas squad. But time and again, he stood tall as he was a formidable backcourt asset for Reyes whenever he was on the floor.

    The court general from Nasugbu, Batangas averaged 7.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.0 assists and was an able option off the bench for guys like Alapag and Castro.

    Tenorio continued to be a valuable part of the team up to the 2014 Fiba Asia Cup in Wuhan, where the country won a bronze medal.

    His star just grew from there, leading Ginebra to four championships, where he was named as the Finals MVP in two of those.

    Five years since that storybook 2013 victory, he was called up to be part of the Philippine team which captured the gold medal in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.


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    Japeth Aguilar

    Aguilar was already one of the top up-and-coming talents in 2013, and he certainly showed his worth in the tournament, averaging 5.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks.

    With his athletic gifts, he remained a key piece of the Gilas program moving forward, and except for the 2015 Fiba Asia Championship which he missed ue to an injured hand, he has worn the national tri-colors every single tournament.

    After the tournament, Aguilar began playing for Ginebra where he has since won four of his five PBA titles. The sweetest, however, was certainly the 2019 Governors' Cup where he was named as the Finals MVP.

    Aguilar has also been part of the PBA's Mythical Teams for the last four seasons.

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    Larry Fonacier

    Fonacier's sniping has been a key piece of the Gilas run in 2013 as he netted 5.3 points on a 37-percent shooting from threes, while also hauling down 1.7 rebounds.

    Yet it turned out to be his last tour of duty for the Philippines, with Paul Lee taking his spot in the 2014 Fiba World Cup.

    Fonacier still sustained his deadly form in the PBA, contributing in TNT's 2015 Commissioner's Cup title run before he was traded to NLEX in 2017.

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    Gary David

    David was bound for a breakout after a long shooting slump and he certainly did in the quarterfinals against Kazakhstan, where he exploded for 22 points.

    It remained his lone good game in the tournament as he only netted 4.4 points on a 28.6-percent sniping from beyond the arc, on top of 1.3 rebounds.

    Then playing for GlobalPort, David was eventually shipped to Meralco in October yet had a roller-coaster ride during his time with the Bolts.

    He did make the trip to the 2014 Fiba World Cup and the 2014 Asian Games, and had his last tour of duty for the national team in the 2015 Jones Cup in Taiwan.

    Already at the twilight of his career, David bounced around the league, playing briefly for San Miguel in 2016 and for Mahindra up to 2017 before taking his act to the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), where he represented his home province Bataan.

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    June Mar Fajardo

    Fajardo was in the middle of his rookie season when he got called up for national team duty.

    And it was truly a humbling experience for the Cebuano giant, still green in international competition, as he only mustered three points and missed all of his seven shots as he logged 31 minutes across seven games.

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    But turned out he was on the cusp of greatness.

    Fajardo was one of the high points for Gilas in the 2014 Fiba World Cup, establishing himself as a keeper for the national team for years to come. He did taste gold wearing the national tri-colors, first in the 2017 SEABA Championship, and then in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, both of which were held here.

    In the PBA, it was the same story as he slowly ascended to the annals of history as one of the best to ever to lace their sneakers, capturing six MVP awards, three Finals MVP plums, and eight Best Player of the Conference nods, while also helping San Miguel establish a dynasty in the 2010s with eight titles to boot.

    Fajardo is certainly on a league of his own, although he's currently on the road to recovery after suffering a broken tibia on his right leg.

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