ANTIPOLO, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas squandered a double-digit lead against hot-shooting Korea and absorbed a 96-92 loss in the first of their two friendly games at the Anyang Gymnasium in Gyeonggi-Do on Friday, June 17.
The hosts erupted for 37 points in the third quarter after scoring just 34 points in the first half as Korea built a lead safe enough to fend off a late comeback stand from the Philippines.
An SJ Belangel reverse layup and a Dwight Ramos and-one pulled Gilas Pilipinas within 5 points with less than two minutes left, 82-87, but a Heo Ung triple allowed Korea to create more separation en route to the victory.
Reigning Korean Basketball League MVP Choi Jun-yong starred in the win with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists as he unloaded 12 points in their third-quarter turnaround.
Kiefer Ravena knocked down a corner triple to give the Philippines a 46-34 lead at the start of the third period before Choi powered a fiery 37-14 run for a 71-60 Korea lead.
Crucial buckets from Ravena, Ramos, Belangel, and William Navarro kept Gilas Pilipinas afloat in the final frame, but they ultimately fell short of their fightback from a 17-point deficit in the quarter.
The most senior member of this edition of the national squad, Ravena paced the Filipinos with 22 points on a 4-of-9 clip from long range, while Ramos chalked up 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Promising performances from the debuting Rhenz Abando and Kevin Quiambao proved to be the silver lining in the loss as they stepped up in the absence of Angelo Kouame and Dave Ildefonso.
Abando particularly stole the show by scattering all of his 11 points in the second period after going a perfect 3-of-3 from three-point land.
Carl Tamayo also finished with 11 points to go with 4 assists and 3 rebounds, while Quiambao tallied 6 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals in his first game for the seniors squad.
Now coached by Nenad Vucinic, the Philippines fought toe-to-toe against Korea despite playing with just 10 men due to the untimely injuries of Kouame (knee) and Ildefonso (ankle).
Heo Hoon and Yeo Jin-seok posted 17 points each to lead Korea in scoring.
Gilas Pilipinas eyes redemption when it tangles with Korea anew on Saturday.
Korea 96 – Yeo 17, Heo H 17, Choi 16, Heo U 16, Ra 14, Kim 6, Yang 5, Lee DS 2, Song 2, Jang 1.
Philippines 92 – Ravena 22, Ramos 16, Tamayo 11, Abando 11, Abarrientos 8, Chiu 6, Navarro 6, Quiambao 6, Belangel 4, Lopez 2.
Quarters: 16-14, 34-43, 71-63, 96-92.