KOREA has been the Philippines’ Achilles heel for years, most notably during the 2002 Asian Games.
Korea has been giving the Philippines heartbreaks ever since Lee Sang Min buried a buzzer-beating three-pointer in their semifinal match-up in the 2002 Asian Games in Busan.
Most recently, Korea also beat the Philippines in the bronze medal match of the 2011 Fiba-Asia Championships in Wuhan, China, denying the amateur-backed Gilas team a trip to the world championships.
Now, the Philippines looks to break the trend and exact some payback in front of what is expected to be a huge crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena in Saturday’s semifinal match.
Korea coach Jae Hak Yoo said that it will be difficult to continue with their winning ways in front of a cheering home crowd in Saturday’s semifinal outing.
“I’m hoping for (a victory). But it’s going to be different because it’s in the Philippines,” said Yoo, through a translator, in the postgame press conference.
The 8:30 p.m. call time, at least, will be a welcome change for the Koreans, who, except for a few first-round games, have been playing late-night matches in near-empty stadiums.
The Gilas face-off, in fact, will come just 18 hours after the Koreans wrapped up a victory over Qatar on Saturday in a quarterfinal match that dragged on past midnight.
“Nobody wants it,” said Yoo of the late matches which begin at 10:30 p.m.
On Saturday, Korea finally gets to play in an earlier game before an expected sellout crowd. The problem is, the crowd will be rooting against them.
Yoo said that they have actually experienced playing in front of a hostile crowd in last month's Jones Cup where the Koreans lost to Chinese-Taipei - an experience which he hopes would serve them well in the Gilas face-off.
“I agree that it will be difficult. But in the Jones Cup, we experienced it as well when we faced Chinese Taipei. We can use that,” Yoo said.