Forget about that lost opportunity – Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao is now focusing on an expected make or break showdown with South Korea on Monday.
If you believe what everybody has said after the country’s disappointing 82-80 loss to China on Tuesday, expect the Nationals to play much wiser, and with more ferocity, in their knockout match with the Koreans next week.
Guiao and his coaching staff are bracing for a different battle.
“Korea has a different system. Hindi sila nagre-rely sa malalaki nila,” Guiao said. “They rely on ball movement.
“We have to prepare for their quickness.”
And not only that – the Filipinos must also prepare for what former PBA import Ricardo Ratliffe can provide for the Koreans as their naturalized player.
But Guiao is unfazed.
“Our familiarity with Ratliffe will save us some time on the scouting report, but Korea is more than Ratliffe. Korea is more of a team game.
“They move the ball around. If you lose your focus, if you lose your patience, that’s the time you break down on defense. I guess those are the things that we have to plan against Korea,” Guiao said.
Guiao believes the team’s gutsy performance against China should be an indication of their chances in the medal round, even though the team has had its shares of heartbreaking experiences against the Koreans.
“If we play with the same effort just like what we’ve shown against China, tingin ko kaya natin ang Korea,” Guiao added.
The Nationals should be reminded that the Koreans have inflicted many heartaches on the country – most notably in the Asian Games.
In the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul, the Philippines was deprived of a chance to face China for the gold medal when a controversial charging foul was called against Allan Caidic. It led the Koreans to win.
Fast forward to 2002. Lee Sang Min buried his only three-point shot in the closing seconds of the game that propelled Korea to an intense victory over the Jong Uichico-coached national squad.
After breaking the Korean curse in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship in Manila, the two teams qualified from the Asian region and met again in the World Cup a year later. The Koreans, led by TJ Moon, pulled off a come-from-behind victory over the Filipinos.
History speaks, and Guiao and his troops are here to redefine it.