Heartbroken Filipino fans are lamenting about the dreaded ‘Korean curse’ after South Korea eliminated the Philippines from medal contention in the 2018 Asiad basketball tournament, 91-82 on Monday.
The curse of Korea?
The Philippines set the pace for most of the game, powered by Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson’s 25 points and consistent scoring from Christian Standhardinger and Stanley Pringle, who had 16 and 14 apiece.
The Filipinos lost their steam in the fourth quarter as they struggled to find a way around the Koreans’ zone defense.
Naturalized Korean player Ricardo Ratliffe, who helped his side in both outside shooting and defense in the crucial fourth period, had 30 points to lead all scorers.
For the Philippines’ fans, the shocking loss may be a sign that the dreaded ‘Korean curse’ that has plagued the Philippine’s national basketball team for half a century already is yet to be broken.
— Gilas Pilipinas Army (@gilasarmy) August 27, 2018
Coming into the 2nd half, I felt like we had it. I felt like we’d advance to the semis. But idk. Lack of offensive rebounds, turnovers, loss of possession at crucial moments ☹️ still, a good game! The curse of Korea will once again be broken— in time! Proud of you, boys! ?❤️
— Lowkey MayWard ? (@lowkeymayward) August 27, 2018
Belief in the ‘curse’ may stem from how the Philippines last beat South Korea in the quadrennial sports meet in 1962.
The 56 years in between has seen a number of heartbreaking close calls.
The 1986 Asiad semifinals in Seoul saw a tight contest between the two sides. The Koreans led 103-102 in the dying seconds, but the Filipinos had a chance to steal the lead just before the buzzer.
An offensive foul slapped on the Philippines’ Allan Caidic in the last few seconds however secured the victory for the Koreans.
Philippine officials criticized the officiating and claimed the game was rigged in favor of the host team.
The two squads once again faced off in the semifinal stage of the 2002 Asiad in Busan. The Philippines managed to hold on to the lead heading into the last crucial seconds, but a buzzer-beating triple from Lee Sang Min swept away the Filipinos’ long-awaited ticket to the podium of Asian basketball.
The Philippines’ success over South Korea in non-Asiad competitions, such as the 2013 FIBA Asia Cup semifinals, gave Filipinos hope that the so-called Korean curse would one day be broken.
For some fans, any curse in sports can be broken by the right preparation and strategy.
Defense is the key. Take the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 as a prime example when we let Korea scored 118 pts against us. I don't believe in Korean curse. It's just that the Korean coach knows the play ng Pinas. Coaching staff should come up with a defensive plan pangontra Korea. @hoopnut
— BGC man (@iam1925) August 23, 2018
The Philippines’ head coach Yeng Guiao took responsibility for the loss. In a post-game interview, Guao admitted that his team struggled with the Koreans’ vaunted zone defense.
“They stuck with the zone. They lived and died with the zone, and we couldn’t adjust in time,” said Guiao about the Koreans’ defensive scheme.
He added that the squad will try to aim for a fifth-place finish despite losing their shot at qualifying for a medal.