Against recent history, against a seemingly unconquerable tormentor and against the swell of a rising Korean momentum, Gilas Pilipinas wielded an indefatigable heart Saturday night to return to the world basketball stage.
“Tonight is a special night for Philippine basketball,” said Jimmy Alapag after the Philippines defeated South Korea, 86-79, in the Fiba Asia Championship at Mall of Asia Arena to book a ticket to the 2014 Fiba World Cup in Spain.
“It’s a special night for the country,” he added.
“I told the players before the game that now is the chance to right our story, the Gilas story,” said national coach Chot Reyes.
Alapag had a pair of triples in the stretch, Ranidel de Ocampo nailed a clutch trey of his own and Gabe Norwood pulled off a defensive gem as Gilas Pilipinas bucked the absence of Marcus Douthit to slay a demon that had been the scourge of national teams past.