Philippines friendlies show Korea strong ahead of FIBA ​​Asia Cup

Yeo Jun-seok dribbles the ball during the second friendly match between Korea and the Philippines on Saturday at Anyang Sports Complex in Anyang, Gyeonggi. [NEWS1]

Heo Ung kicks the ball during the first friendly match between Korea and the Philippines on Friday at Anyang Sports Complex in Anyang, Gyeonggi. [NEWS1]

Heo Ung kicks the ball during the first friendly match between Korea and the Philippines on Friday at Anyang Sports Complex in Anyang, Gyeonggi. [NEWS1]

Preparations for the FIBA ​​Asia Cup 2022 are in full swing for the Korean men’s basketball team, led by head coach Choo Il-seung.

Korea may have got off to a good start, having won back-to-back friendlies against the Philippines in wins from behind on Friday and Saturday.

World No. 30 Korea beat No. 34 Philippines 96-92 on Saturday and 106-102 on Sunday. The friendlies were held as warm-up matches ahead of the FIBA ​​Asia Cup 2022 in Jakarta, Indonesia, starting July 12.

For the Korean basketball team, the two wins are a consolation after losing both qualifiers to the Philippines last June at Angeles University Foundation Gym in Pampanga, Philippines.

Ra Gun-ah, Heo Ung, and Yeo Jun-seok were the standout players last week.

Yeo was the top scorer in the opener, scoring 17 points. Ra added 27 points in Game 2 while Heo added 21 points and Yeo added 17 points on Sunday. Yeo spent the most time on the pitch of the two teams on Sunday, playing for 34 minutes and 34 seconds.

However, rising star Yeo will not compete with the Korean national team at the Asian Cup, announcing the day after the two friendlies on Monday that he will fly to the United States.

Yeo has yet to reach a deal, but will participate in so-called pro days, or silver workouts, for the G League, a show league run by agents to showcase their clients. The G League is the NBA’s lower level league.

Yeo is not the first player to try his hand at joining the American league this season, as Lee Hyun-jung flew out in April to enter the NBA rookie draft slated for Thursday, seeking to become the second Korean to play at the top. American League after Ha Seung-jin. Ha was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2004 draft, remaining with the team until 2006.

With ace Yeo unexpectedly absent, Head Coach Choo and staff quickly filled the void with Lee Woo-suk on Monday, securing the 12-man roster for the FIBA ​​Asia Cup 2022.

Heo Hoon, Lee Dae-sung, Heo Ung, Choi Jun-yong, Song Kyo-chang, Yang Hong-seok, Lee Woo-suk, Kang Sang-jae, Ra, Kim Jong-kyu, Jang Jae-seok and Lee Dae -heon was part of the team.

The FIBA ​​Asia Cup 2022 runs from July 12 to July 24. The Asian Cup takes place every four years and should have taken place in August 2021, but was first postponed due to the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, then postponed again to July 2022 to be played in Jakarta, in Indonesia, although qualifying took place as planned last June.

The last time the FIBA ​​Asia Cup was held was in 2017 when the event was held in Lebanon. Australia won the trophy while Iran finished second and Korea took third place.

The Korean men’s basketball team was one of seven teams that played in the first-ever FIBA ​​Asian Cup in 1960, when Korea finished in fourth place. Since then, Korea have never missed a tournament and have finished in the top three on all but five occasions.

Korea has won the Asian Cup twice, in 1969 and 1997. The first time Korea won the title in 1969, the team was unstoppable, beating all eight opponents who crossed paths. In 1997, Korea faced five-time defending champions and then-defending champions China in the semi-finals. Korea had a record four defeats to China in the last five Asian Cup finals. But Korea beat China in the 1997 semi-finals by six points and then beat Japan in the final to clinch their first title in nearly 30 years.

Korea were able to qualify for the Continental Cup last June after finishing second in Group A after the Philippines. Indonesia finished third and Thailand fourth.

This is the second time Indonesia has hosted the event. The last time the FIBA ​​Asia Cup was held in Indonesia was in 1993.

This time around 16 countries – host Indonesia, defending champion Australia alongside Bahrain, China, Taiwan, India, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Lebanon, New Zealand, Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Syria – will compete. Korea are placed in Group B alongside Taiwan, China and Bahrain.

The group stage matches begin on July 12 when Korea will face China first, followed by Taiwan on July 14 and Bahrain on July 16.

BY YUN SO-HYANG [yun.sohyang@joongang.co.kr]

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