by Brian Yalung
MANILA, Philippines – The last bus to a possible wild card birth to the 2012 London Olympics ended in heartbreaking passion after the Smart Gilas Philippines squad got sideswiped by a stubborn Korean team, 70-68 in the battle for the bronze in Wuhan, China.
The win was another heartbreaker for the Philippines, seeming a favorite victim of Korea. Back during the 2002 Busan Asiad, Korea likewise broke the aspirations of the Philippines in the semifinals when they won thanks to a buzzer-beating triple from Lee Sang Min.
Today another player with almost a similar name, Cho Sung Min, relented and backed the Koreans in the second half. With Smart Gilas leading for most parts of the game, booming triples and shots from Min slowly put the Koreans back on track.
This included a four-point play that cut down the Gilas lead to 2. Then another 3-pointer from Moon gave Korea the lead which eventually became a see-saw battle from there.
Missed free throws on the part of Smart Gilas could have also made a difference. Douthit, Kelly Williams and Marcio Lassiter missed some free throws which could have likewise made the difference.
It was a sorry loss for the Smart Gilas squad who were hoping to at least make it to the wildcard stage to reach the 2012 London Olympics.
The loss likewise spoiled the excellent shooting performance displayed by PBA vet Jimmy Alapag, who finished with 17 points that included shooting 5 of 7 from the three point territory.