Gilas Pilipinas stuns Korea on Belangel buzzer-beater to qualify for FIBA Asia Cup

SJ Belangel banked home a game-winning triple as Gilas Pilipinas stunned Korea, 81-78 Wednesday in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers third window in Pampanga, Philippines.

Gilas shook off a shaky start and a 17-point deficit, battled back and beat their Asian nemesis in a major competition for the first time since 2013.

The win also formally clinched the nationals a slot in the FIBA Asia Cup proper in Indonesia in August later this year.

The Ateneo product finished with 13 points on 5/9 shooting and five rebounds. Dwight Ramos led five double-digit scorers with 16 points including 9/10 free throws.

Big men Ange Kouame and Kai Sotto contributed 12 and 11 points, respectively. The naturalized player had three triples while Sotto grabbed seven rebounds.

The visitors imposed their will early on, going on a 21-12 first quarter behind their shooting and physicality.

Korea led by as much as 17 before Gilas’ bench mob brought the nationals back in the game.

Ra Gu Na (formerly Ricardo Ratliffe) and Lee Seoung Hyun paced the Koreans in the first half, combining for 20 points.

An 11-2 run gave Korea a 75-70 in the clutch moments of the fourth.

Free throws brought Gilas back, while a lay-up by Belangel off a drive enabled them to take a 76-75 lead with 48.5 left in regulation.

Kouame scored on a put-back later on to extend the lead up to three, but missed the bonus as Korea’s Lee Hyun Jung knocked down a game-tying trey with 2.9 seconds left.

Coach Tab Baldwin then called consecutive timeouts, setting up the pulsating game-winning moment for Gilas.

Ra Gu Na led the East Asian side with 24 points including 10/16 from two-point land while Lee added 15.

The Philippines will face Indonesia on Friday before concluding the qualifiers with a rematch against Korea on Sunday.

Quarter-scores: 12-21, 36-44, 56-57, 81-78. photo

Levi Joshua Jr Verora

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