Gilas Pilipinas beats South Korea on Belangel’s game-winner

SJ Belangel’s game winner gives Gilas Pilipinas rare win over South Korea. FIBA ASIA PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—SJ Belangel played hero as the Philippines stopped South Korea, 81-78, for a fourth straight win in the qualifiers of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup Wednesday at Angeles University Gym in Clark, Pampanga.

Belangel found a way to bank in a triple from the right wing to beat the buzzer and give the Filipinos their first win over the South Koreans since 2013.

The Philippines, with its 4-0 record and place atop Group A, secured its ticket to the Fiba Asia Cup in Indonesia even as South Korea dropped its first game for a 2-1 slate but retained the second spot.

In a tight contest where Gilas even trailed early, Belangel put the Philippines back on top, 77-75, when drove for a clutch layup with 48.5 seconds left.

Lee Junghyun tied the game at 78 with 2.9 seconds remaining with a three, forcing Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin to use his final two timeouts.

The Philippines, though, had to dig deep after going down by as much as 17 points, 33-16, midway through the second.

“It was a great game of basketball,” said Baldwin. “I would probably characterize that game as we were shocked with the physicality that Korea gave us.”

“I don’t think there’s a question that these guys are gonna compete.”

Dwight Ramos led the Filipinos with 16 points and five rebounds while Belangel added 14 points and five boards.

Kai Sotto, making his debut for the senior team, also finished with 14 points and seven rebounds while newly naturalized Angelo Koaume pitched in 11 points and six boards.

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