Korea, which has a string of heartbreaking wins over the Philippines in international play, will once again be the thorn to the country’s hopes to a podium finish in the 18th Asian Games.
After a close 82-80 loss to China on Tuesday night, the Philippines will literally have to face its demons again as the Korea jinx lurks in the knockout quarterfinals on Monday.
Gilas should be reminded that it’s the Koreans who had inflicted a long list of heartaches on the country in the Asian Games.
Who could forget the night in Seoul in the 1986 Asian Games when the Philippines was deprived of a chance to face China for the gold medal when a controversial charging foul was called against Allan Caidic in the dying seconds paving the way for Korea to win?
Who could forget another night in Korea, this time in Busan in 2002 when Lee Sang Min buried his only 3-point shot in the closing seconds that propelled Korea to an intense semifinals triumph over the Philippines then coached by Jong Uichico?
And now, here comes Korea getting in the way again. This time, an early encounter but nonetheless critical in deciding the fate of the country in this tournament where a team hastily formed with just a few days to go before going to battle.
It’s now or never. The better to take away this fast-moving, streak-shooting Koreans if the Philippines will even entertain hopes of a medal.
But it doesn’t stop there. The uphill climb gets steeper in the next tier– the semifinals–where possibly another superpower in Iran is lurking.
Assuming that Gilas slays the ghost of Korea and hurdles Iran, then it’s back to another e shot at China in the gold-medal game.
Based on the tournament format of the 18th Asiad basketball tournament, the Philippines, as the likely second seed in Group D, will be facing the top-seed in Group A, Korea, in the quarterfinals.
At 1-1 (win-loss), the Philippines is expected to get the second spot. China (1-0) is expected to get past Kazakhstan (0-1) late Thursday.
The Chinese will have a rather easier route–which could have belonged to the Philippines had it won that game against China–as they face the second seed in Group A , which could be either Indonesia or Thailand, in the quarterfinals and the first placer in Group C – either Taipei or Japan – in the semifinals.
Coulda, woulda, shoulda.
That’s how the ball bounces.