Lee Seoung-hyun was part of the South Korea crew that masterfully defeated Gilas Pilipinas in the quarterfinals of the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon.
The cagers from the Far East previously beat the Southeast Asian dribblers black and blue on their way to the 116-84 conquest. That win served as retribution for the semifinal defeat they suffered in the 2013 meet.
In that lopsided affair, the 6-foot-6 forward was among the five players from his side that scored in double figures. For his part, he contributed 14 points.
Years have passed since, and Lee continues to represent his motherland. The 29-year-old was among those who flew to Clark, Pampanga to fly the Taegukgi in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers’ third window.
And he faced the Philippine team again, although it was very different from the ones he met in 2017. Back then, Gilas featured an all-PBA squad.
The Koreans, of course, were looking to keep their mastery of Gilas. But those plans got thwarted as the youth-laden crew — which has an average age of just 23 years — beat them. And not just once, but twice.
Asked about the differences between the Filipino teams he played against, Lee said that the 2017 team’s guard play was its strength.
Well, the backcourt of Chot Reyes’ crew had two-time FIBA Asia Mythical Five member Jayson Castro and Terrence Romeo; and also had Roger Pogoy, Matthew Wright, and Jio Jalalon.
Romeo was the lone bright spot of the team in that humiliating loss to South Korea. He had 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the floor.
“Comparing the two generations of Philippine national teams, the previous was their guards were their strong points,” Lee said through a translator moments after their 77-82 defeat, Sunday at the AUF Sports and Cultural Center.
The present-day Gilas, meanwhile, has ‘great big men’ up front, with Lee mentioning Kai Sotto in particular.
The 7-foot-3 slotman made 10 points and seven rebounds against Korea in the five-point win. He also had almost the same numbers in their first win last Wednesday, although he had 11 markers with a steal.
“But in this generation, for example, Kai Sotto, they got great big men on the roster. They put us in a hard position to play against them.”