Philippines ends Korea heartbreak, books ticket to FIBA World Cup

By Mark Giongco/ – In what could be one of his final moments donning the country’s colors, Jimmy Alapag saved his best for last.

Alapag, the Philippine team captain, hit a huge three late in the fourth quarter as Gilas Pilipinas finally got by South Korea, 86-79, in the semifinal round of the 27th FIBA Asia Men’s Championship to secure a berth in the World Championships in Spain next year.

Alapag, the smallest guy on the court at five-foot-nine, showed he had the biggest heart with the bulk of his 14 points coming when the Nationals needed them most.

The veteran playmaker buried a triple with 54 ticks left that gave the Philippines an 84-79 lead as the frenzied crowd at the jampacked Mall of Asia Arena roared to its loudest.

The Philippines, which did it sans the services of the injured Marcus Douthit in the second half, will meet 2007 and 2009 Asian champion Iran in the finale Sunday night.

Gilas rode on Jayson William in the third quarter.

Fearless, William obliterated Korea’s defense with his unmatched quickness with the ball. He scored on three straight drives as Gilas got a taste of the lead, 40-39, early in the third quarter since taking a 13-10 cushion.

Douthit, practically with just one good leg, was hardly felt during his 13-minute play and seemed to have aggravated his right calf injury midway through the second quarter. He asked to be subbed out and did not return after scoring just two points with no field goals made.
The Philippines booked a ticket to Spain, making it to the FIBA Basketball World Cup for the first time in 28 years.

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