MANILA, Philippines–Gilas Pilipinas’ steely nerves down the stretch against South Korea was not something the team pulled out of thin air.
You can ask SJ Belangel, the very player who sank a bold, off-balanced, off-the-glass triple to upend bitter rival South Korea, 81-78.
“That’s the purpose of coach Tab’s preparations,” the diminutive playmaker said in a video interview released to media outlets.
Gilas, composed of several Baldwin guys at Ateneo, came back from 17 points down to bring the heat back to South Korea.
The Filipinos regained the lead, 78-75, with 10 ticks remaining. But faithful to this rivalry’s storied history, the visitors tied the game just roughly leaving a narrow two-second window for the hosts.
Turns out, that’s all the time Belangel needed—even for a play that was not designed for him.
“The primary option we wanted was to get Carl under the basket with the ball on a direct entry pass from Dwight. But they switched Ra (Gun-a) on Carl, and Ange didn’t quite execute the way we wanted,” Baldwin said of the final play, one he designed using back-to-back timeouts.
“The middle of the lane wasn’t available, and Dwight did the smart thing,” he added. “(He) took the first available option, and that was SJ.”
Belangel said under Baldwin’s system, the team prepares for every possible scenario.
“We all know what we were going to do [regardless of the] situation,” he said. “Under coach Tab’s system, you have nothing to be anxious about.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.