THROUGHOUT the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon, it had seemed Philippines were built to thrive on adversity.
They overcame Andray Blatche’s absence, Calvin Abueva’s late arrival at camp, June Mar Fajardo’s injury and limited practice time to beat defending champions China in their opening game.
When Christian Standhardinger missed the final group game, against Qatar, and Abueva limped out, they still won to complete a group sweep and advance straight to the quarter-finals.
But just as the adversity ended and everything seemed to be coming together, so it fell apart.
Philippines, with a fully fit roster for the first time at the tournament, were blown away by South Korea in the first quarter-final.
Fajardo was available for the first time in Lebanon, Standhardinger and Abueva were back, and Gilas had the momentum of three straight wins under their belt.
But old foes Korea produced the standout offensive performance of the tournament so far, winning 118-86 to stun Gilas and end their hopes of a first Asian championship since 1985.
Philippines were simply unable to cope with the ferocity of Korea’s attacking onslaught.
They missed only five of their 21 three-point attempts, and shot a breathtaking 66.7 percent of their field goals in total, as well as producing 34 assists to Gilas’ 14.
Terrence Romeo again underlined his status as one of Asian basketball’s best scorers, contributing 22 points as he went eight-for-15 from the field and six-for-10 from three.
But even he could not do it alone, as a dominant third quarter from Korea turned a 57-49 half-time lead into 86-62.
Korea were led by 22 points from Oh Se-keun and 21 points from Kim Sun-hyung, the latter missing only two of his 11 shots.
Korea will face Iran in the semi-final, after they defeated hosts Lebanon 80-70.