South Korea has broken Gilas Pilipinas’ hearts countless times.
SJ Belangel just returned the favor.
Belangel hit the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer as the Philippines hacked out a come-from-behind 81-78 win over Korea to clinch its FIBA Asia Cup berth in Clark, Pampanga, on Wednesday, June 16.
With two seconds left and the game tied at 78-78, Belangel fired an off-balanced triple over the outstretched arms of Lee Seoung-hyun and banked it in to propel the Philippines to its first win over Korea in eight years.
Gilas Pilipinas last beat Korea in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship – a victory it also pulled off at home at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Belangel finished with 13 points and 5 rebounds, while Dwight Ramos chalked up 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals as he served as a steady presence for the Philippines when it trailed by as many as 17 points.
“We were shocked at the beginning of the game of the physicality of Korea,” said national team head coach Tab Baldwin. “We talked about it and we started grinding and we started to hold our own.”
Kai Sotto made his presence felt for Gilas Pilipinas with 11 points and 7 rebounds off the bench, while naturalized player Angelo Kouame chimed in 12 points and 6 rebounds in both of their debuts for the seniors squad.
Also making his first appearance for the seniors team, Carl Tamayo held his own against Korea with 10 points, including the free throw that sparked the Philippines’ fightback in the final two minutes.
The Koreans seized a 75-70 lead off a 9-0 run highlighted by three straight Ra Gun-ah buckets before the Filipinos unloaded their own 8-0 blitz capped by a Kouame short stab for a 78-75 advantage.
Korea, though, took advantage of Kouame missing his bonus free throw to knot the score at 78-78 off a Lee Hyun-jung long bomb.
But Belangel got the last laugh as he sank the miraculous three-pointer to secure the Philippines, which remained unbeaten in four games in Group A, its spot in the Asia Cup.
Philippines 81 – Ramos 16, Belangel 13, Kouame 12, Sotto 11, Tamayo 10, Abarrientos 6, Baltazar 6, Go 4, Nieto 3, Navarro 0, Tungcab 0.
Korea 78 – Ra 24, Lee HJ 15, Lee SH 9, Jeon 9, Kang 7, Moon 6, Yang 4, Kim 2, Lee DS 2, Byeon 0.
Quarters: 12-21, 36-44, 56-57, 81-78.