Ricardo Ratliffe, also known as Ra Gun-ah, expects South Korea to figure in an emotional affair with Gilas Pilipinas when the long-time rivals collide in next week’s 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers’ third window in Clark, Pampanga.
Both teams will finally play against each other when their supposed meeting in Bahrain last November was called off following the SoKor’s decision to beg off from taking part in the window due to COVID-19 concerns.
And the two will lock horns not just once but twice — first on June 16 and then on the 20th — as the cagers from East Asia will play four games in five days owing to the matches they missed in the Manama bubble.
“I expect it to be a really emotional game,” said Ratliffe in a guest appearance on The Gilas Zone, hosted by Enzo Flojo and Josh Bett.
Ratliffe, who has been Korea’s naturalized player since 2017, admitted that he did not have any idea of how storied the rivalry between Korea and the Philippines has been until after his stint in the PBA.
But once he learned all about it, the former Purefoods Star Hotshots reinforcement bared that he was caught by surprise.
“I didn’t even know about the rivalry until after I played in the Philippines,” he said. “And a lot of fans were messaging me and they were telling me like, ‘It’s sad to see you go, and it’s really sad to see you go to our rival.’
“Then, I talked to some people, I was like, ‘Why are they saying, like, with the rival?’ I was actually surprised when I read that, especially when I looked back on it to how many games were actually competitive.”
The 32-year-old himself has become involved in that on-court enmity when Korea crossed paths with the Filipino dribblers in the 2018 Asian Games.
Gilas paraded NBA star Jordan Clarkson in the continental meet, but Ratliffe and Co. were unfazed whatsoever. They collected the 91-82 win, keeping their mastery of the ASEAN force in the Asiad that dates back to 1974.
The Koreans will face a totally different Philippine team from 2018 but the 6-foot-10 slotman expects a dogfight nonetheless.
“I feel like it’s gonna be a dogfight. These guys are coming out there trying to beat us, and we’ll try to beat them also,” expressed Ratliffe.
But really, the Virginia-born bruiser is just excited to finally be back in the Philippines.
“I’m very happy to be back in the Philippines. Period. I haven’t been back since 2017, so I’m really looking forward to seeing some fans and seeing some of my old teammates.”