With a much bigger defender, Lee Seounghyun, blocking his path and view, Belangel pivoted to the left and the switched to his right, and unleashed an awkwardly executed three-point heave at the buzzer.
Belangel’s Hail Mary shot went in and lifted the Gilas Pilipinas men’s basketball team to an unexpected 81-78 triumph over Korea and straight into the FIBA Asia Cup tournament proper this August in Indonesia.
Belangel’s nearly impossible basket sent the Philippines to their fourth straight win and in the solo lead of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers on Wednesday evening at Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center in Angeles, Pampanga.
“It was exciting. It’s a shame that we did not have 20,000 people watching us at the Mall of Asia Arena. What we did was we had a country behind us. We could see how much the country wants something positive. And I think we are extremely proud to bring them something exciting,” said coach Tab Baldwin.
Dwight Ramos showed the way with 16 points for Gilas, which rallied from eight points down at halftime and as much as 17 in the first quarter.
Triples from Ramos and Angelo Kouame allowed the Philippines to move to within range, 44-49, in the last 6:08 of the third period.
Then, a driving layup from Ramos with 3:50 to go sent the match into a 52-all deadlock.
Naturalized Korean Guna Ra led the way with 24 points for Korea, which picked up its first loss in three matches.
Ra’s dunk and Seonghyen Jeon’s trey with 2:27 to go in the final period kept the Koreans on top, 75-70, for the last time.
But the Philippines clawed its way back again with charities from Justine Baltazar and Ramos, before finally moving in front off Belangel’s driving layup in the remaining 4:48, 76-75.
Korea found a chance to force an overtime when Hyunjung Lee knocked in a trey with 2.8 ticks go, only to find their winning opportunities quashed by Belangel’s unexpected basket.
NBA prospect Kai Sotto contributed 11 points and 7 rebounds.
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