South Korea turned in a masterful performance to beat Thailand by 67, 120-53, to continue its winning ways in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers’ third window Saturday evening at the AUF Sports and Cultural Center in Pampanga.
The cagers from the Far East took control early on before firing 31 straight points bridging the first and second quarters for a 48-12 advantage, which proved to be too insurmountable for the debuting opposition.
“Our match tonight was not only about winning and losing. We also focused on improving ourselves. There were things that we did better, and there were things that we still need to work on,” said coach Cho Sanghyun.
Ha Yungu had his best performance of the tournament with 34 points on 14-of-16 shooting from the field, alongside 10 rebounds, two steals, and a block. Nineteen-year-old Yeo Jun-sok also had an impressive outing with 23 points
Young star Lee Hyunjung produced 20 points, nine rebounds, four assists, four steals, and two blocks as he had a plus-minus rating of 50.
Yang Hongseok made 19 points, shooting five of his team’s 11 three-pointers in the dominant conquest that also saw SoKor shoot an impressive 58.2-percent from the field — thanks hugely to the 30 assists they dished.
“Overall I’m happy that we got this W, but still we gotta work on some areas,” said Cho as his crew improved to 4-1 in Group A.
So dominant were the Koreans that it barely needed naturalized center Ricardo Ratliffe to inflict damage to the Thais. The 6-foot-8 bruiser only played for over seven minutes and made five points and four rebounds.
Cho revealed that the veteran big man suffered an injury. He did not go into detail but he quickly allayed fears that it is a major one, and added that he rested him up for Sunday’s highly-anticipated rematch with Gilas Pilipinas.
“Ra’s injury is not that severe. We just wanted to give him some break for tomorrow,” the cager-turned-mentor said. “But because of his absence, we were able to give a lot of opportunities to the younger ones.”
Korea is looking primed for Round Two of its rivalry clash with the Filipino dribblers (5-0) at 3:00 p.m., where they are aiming to avenge the stinging, last-second 78-81 defeat they suffered last Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Wattana Sutisin and veteran guard Chitchai Ananti made 12 and 11 points, respectively, to lead Thailand in the humiliating defeat that understandably disappointed head coach Chris Daleo.
The result was totally different from their meeting in the Qualifiers’ first window back in February of last year. Although the Thais lost in Seoul then, the Koreans did not win easily as they had to gut out the 93-86 victory.
“We only have a week-and-a-half but that’s not an excuse. You can have a bad game where the ball is not just going your way or foul trouble but not rotating defensively and having bad habits, there’s no excuse for that,” he said.
“It’s so disheartening because we have gone through this for four years, and yet we have now grown away from that. I’m very disappointed with the product that we produced on the basketball court,” added the American.
Thailand has gone winless in five games, and it looks to change that on Sunday when it battles ASEAN rivals Indonesia (1-4) at 11:30 a.m.
Korea 120 – Ha 34, Yeo 23, Lee H 20, Yang 19, Lee D 5, Byeon 5, Ra 5, Lee S 4, Jeon 3, Kim 2.
Thailand 53 – Suttisin 12, Ananti 11, Towaroj 9, Jakrawan 8, Muangboon 3, Chanthachon 3, Chungyampin 2, Charansarn 2, Klaewnarong 2, Jaisanuk 1, Ghogar 0.
Quarterscores: 23-12, 60-18, 85-32, 120-53.