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SHOW OF FORCE — Gilas blow South Korea to bits, 95-71

My biggest advice that I have for them is to cherish the moment.

Joaquin Gabriel Ludovice (left) and Kurt Velasquez celebrate as Gilas Youth crushes South Korea, 95-71, in the FIBA U16 Asian Championships in Doha. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF FIBA

CEBU CITY -— Joaquin Gabriel Ludovice caught fire from afar to power Gilas Youth to a 95-71 victory over South Korea on Friday in their playoff game in the FIBA U16 Asian Championships at the Al-Gharafa Sports Club Multi-Purpose Hall in Doha, Qatar.

Ludovice fired eight-of-16 from the field, including seven launched from downtown, to finish with 25 points.

The win was a major feat as the Koreans had racked up nine wins over the Philippines not just in the U16 but in the U18 as well through the years.

It didn’t take long for the Philippines to heat up.

At the end of the first quarter, Gilas Youth was already holding a 28-18 lead before the Filipinos strung up 17 straight points that was capped by a floater by Bonn Daja to settle the issue.

Apart from the 12 triples it converted against the Koreans, the Philippines also imposed its will in the shaded area, scoring 40 points in the paint and scoring 21 points off 23 offensive rebounds.

Daja wound up with a double-double game of 13 points and 10 rebounds while Kieffer Alas had another double-double of his own, 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Daniel Edi also had a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds but it was all in vain as South Korea bowed out of contention.

The Philippines is currently playing against Japan in the quarterfinal as of press time and a win against the Japanese will give Gilas a ticket to the 2024 FIBA U17 World Cup in Turkey.

A day before the against South Korea game, the team met up with veteran Gilas campaigner Gabe Norwood, who was in Doha for the 2025 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers draw along with retired Iran center Hamed Hadadi.

Norwood, who played in two FIBA World Cups with Gilas in 2014 and 2019, told the players to enjoy each game wearing the national team jersey as it is an experience only a select few players can do.

“My biggest advice that I have for them is to cherish the moment,” he says.

“There are no guarantees. A lot can happen in this life — in this game of basketball — from 16 years old to being 38 like myself,” Norwood said.

“I always cherish the opportunities to represent Gilas, to represent the Philippines, and my family and I just express to them to play as hard as they can when you get the chance because there’s no guarantee that you’ll get it again.”

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