Gilas Pilipinas' SJ Belangel revealed that prior to the nationals' stunning win against South Korea in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, he has already experienced playing against Korea's U-16 squad.
Belangel was part of the Batang Gilas U-16 squad that beat China in the FIBA Asia Under-16 Championship in 2015.
But before dealing China's first defeat in the tournament in 30 years, Belangel and the Pinoy U-16 team bowed to South Korea which eventually became that year's champion.
"Na-experience ko na po dati since naging part ako ng U-16 Batang Gilas, natalo kami sa Korea," said Belangel in “Post-Game,” ABS-CBN News sports podcast.
Against the young Korean squad, Batang Gilas fought its way out of a double-digit deficit. But their comeback fell short when Belangel missed a potential game-tying triple, allowing Korea to escape with a 77-74 win.
Fast forward to 2021 when Belangel made his debut for the Philippine men's senior team in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers. It was his buzzer-beating trey that deliver Gilas to an 81-78 shocker against Korea.
Gilas repeated its win, with an 82-77 victory in a separate game.
Belangel said he is aware of the basketball rivalry between the two countries.
"Siyempre hindi ka basketball player kung hindi mo napanood yung kuyas natin na naglalaro kalaban ang South Korea," he said.
But one of the keys to their back-to-back wins against Korea was their focus to execute every play they had to run.
"We just took it possession by possession, we don't care if we miss. We just have to bounce back, one possession at a time, 'pag nagkamali ka ok lang. Walang nagfa-frown, we just have to take possession by possession," said Belangel.
This is why he disagreed with the claim made by Korea head coach Cho Sang Hyun, who described Belangel’s game-winner as a “lucky shot.”
"Hindi po siya lucky (shot), kasi pinaghirapan namin iyon possession by possession."
“Post-Game” is the ABS-CBN News sports podcast.
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