This is not the first time Philippines lost a close game against Korea in Asiad basketball

August 28, 2018 - 1:43 PM
The Philippines' Poy Erram during the Philippines' loss to South Korea in Group A of the 2018 Asian Games men's basketball tournament.

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.

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.

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.