Philippines, 29 May 2024
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"Things are even this time" - Guiao on PH-Korea encounter

Yeng Guiao.

Coach Yeng Guiao and the Philippine basketball team are not thinking of the so-called ?Korean curse? media have been floating around as hounding the Filipinos campaign in the sport their countrymen love most in the on-going 18th Asian Games in Jakarta.

When Guiao and his men meet the Koreans on Monday in the quarterfinal round, all they have in their minds is to win and make it to the Final Four on the way to the gold medal playoff and improve on the silver medal finish their predecessors fashioned out in 1990 in Beijing.

?It?s still a tough job as everybody thinks it is, but we?re ready for the Korea game,? Guiao declared in an interview with this writer on the eve of the crucial match Sunday.

?The game plan is in place,? Guiao assured. Execution will be crucial, but we?re prepared. We prepared for their shooters and their post option in Ratliffe.?

The balding mentor of the NLEX team in the PBA was referring Korea?s naturalized slotman Ricardo Ratliffe who?s been dominant in his previous outing for his team, averaging 23.3 points and 16.3 rebounds so far in the tournament.

"He's their primary option," Guiao observed. "They give him a lot of touches and he's able to draw the double team or collapse the defense and that's all that they need for their shots to go in, that small shooting window.

"We'll have to make a decision whether we double team him or we just play him single coverage cause if you double team or if you collapse, the other Korean players are gonna get involved in the offense with the three-point shots," Guiao said.

"We?ll be having practice sessions today (Sunday) and Monday and hopefully, we in the coaching staff will have a decision on what to do against Ratliffe, and his teammates,? he said.

Ratliff is no stranger to Filipino basketball fans having played two conferences with the Purefoods franchise in the PBA.

?The guys are excited to play and make the semis. They all want to make their countrymen proud,? Guiao asserted. ?I told them kalimutan na nila yung sumpa nay yun. Hindi naman tayo naglalaro para sa sinasabi nilang multo (ghost) but for our country.?

While Ratliffe could be a big headache for the Filipinos, the Koreans will have to solve, too, the presence of Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson for the first time.

Clarkson had a superb debut against China, tallying 28 points on 5/13 three pointers to go along with 8 rebounds and 4 assists. The team is banking on Clarkson dominating the matchup in the backcourt to offset Ratliffe's advantage in the paint.

Guiao expressed hopes to see his boys to improve on their offense, particularly Stanley Pringle and Paul Lee and defense in the persons of Christian Stanhardinger, Gabe Norwood, Beau Belga, Poy Erram, Raymond Almazan and Asi Taulava.

He said he also expect James Yap to be in perfect rhythm, adding he?ll be using Chris Tiu, who, he didn't field against China in order not to compromise the team?s ceiling.

?Things are even this time. Unlike in our game against China na lamang na lamang sa height and heft. Maliliit tayao ganoon din ang kalaban. Parehas din sa bilis. Magandang laban,? Guiao predicted.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.

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