All the years of heartache, the frustration, the dismay and distraught came to an end at least for now, as Team Gilas Pilipinas pulled off a 86-79 victory over our arch nemesis South Korea in the Semi-Finals of the FIBA Asia Championship last August 10, 2013. Marc Pingris led the inspirational push for our very own cagers even with Marcus Douthit riding the bench because of a calf injury. Also leading the way is Ranidel De Ocampo as provided a much needed scoring down the stretch and Jimmy Alapag with his dagger 3s in the dying moments of the 4th Quarter. Jason Castro provided devastation in the 3rd Quarter as well.
The victory propelled Gilas Pilipinas to a gold medal match against Iran later and the victory ended the South Korean nightmare that our basketball program had to carry for years. The South Koreans are our number 1 tormentors in Asia, we lost to them in ABC Tournaments and Asian Games. Most memorable loses came from the 1986 Asian Games, 1998 Asian Games, 2002 Asian Games and the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship. What hurt most for me though is in 2002 where in we were up by 2 only to be foiled by a buzzer beating 3pt heave by Lin Sang Min that propelled the Koreans to the Gold Medal match against Yao Ming’s Chinese Basketball Team. That loss burdened a lot of us and the players especially Olsen Racela who missed 2 FTs with 23 ticks left in the clock with team Philippines leading 68-66 at that time. The Koreans escaped with a 69-68 win. Finally we can erase that bitter memory from our minds, we will proud of the fact that we have finally exorcised our demons at least for the moment (and hopefully this can start our master over our Korean neighbors at least in Basketball). Finally after God knows how many years we have finally beaten the South Koreans, despite the doubters and haters mocking the program. Despite people belittling Manny Pangilinan’s desire to put our country back in the World stage, despite people mocking Gary David and Noli Eala and the San Miguel Corporation people not lending it’s players to the national team (well they did lend Tenorio and Pingris) they finally won, not only for those who believed but also for the haters!