SJ Belangel, the smallest man on the floor, hit the biggest basket of the game as Gilas Pilipinas pulled off a gripping 81-78 come-from-behind triumph over South Korea in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers at the Angeles University Foundation Arena in Pampanga on Wednesday.
🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭 pic.twitter.com/N84cpsIbEp— Jamenea Ferrer (@JemFerrer) June 16, 2021
Belangel, the 5-foot-10 guard from Ateneo, hit a buzzer-beating, banked shot triple to send the Filipinos straight to qualifying in the FIBA Asia Cup to be held in Indonesia.
A former Batang Gilas standout, Belangel delivered big in his first game in the men’s level as his shot gave the Philippines its first win over South Korea in eight years.
Watch also the highlights of the game:
The 7-foot-4 Kai Sotto will be in the spotlight in tonight’s ball game as he tandem with the Philippines’ naturalized player Ange Kouame. The Pinoy duo will try to slow down South Korean expected main man Ra Gun-ah.
BATTLE-READY 👀 pic.twitter.com/8HKtFiSQ8V— SLAM PH (@SLAMonlineph) June 15, 2021
The Gilas main front-court should imitate how Atlanta Hawks’ Clint Capela clamped down Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid in the current NBA Playoffs.
Gun-ah isn’t new to the Philippines style of basketball as he once suited up in the Philippines Basketball Association where he played with the Star Hotshots back in 2016. He was using his American name at that time as Ricardo Ratliffe.
“I played against (Kouame) in the Jones Cup, and I’ve been keeping eyes on him to see his development since 2018,” said the 6-foot-8 Ra. “He’s gotten a lot better. I’m looking forward to playing against him again.”
Another South Korean player that the national team needs to slow down is the 6-foot-7 Lee HyunJung who is a starter in Davidson at the US NCAA. Lee’s school produced the likes of Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry. He is one of their team’s starters and currently averaging 13.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists.
“Davidson has a good basketball program so I’m preparing for a better career after. And this is one of the great opportunities to show the things I can do in getting on to the next level,” Lee said.