It's been six years since Gilas Pilipinas beat Korea to reach the finals of the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship. The win also secured the Philippines a berth in the 2014 FIBA World Cup for the first time in four decades. We asked five of our ESPN5.com crew to get their thoughts on the historic win over Korea.
1. What were you doing in 2013?
Charlie Cuna: I was an anchorman for the TV5 coverage of the PBA games and also for various FIBA tournament games, including 6 games for the FIBA Asia Championship held in Manila in August 2013.
JC Ansis: At the time, I was a rookie sportswriter for Solar Sports Desk. The FIBA Asia Championship was the first time I covered a national team.
Jutt Sulit: I was a year out of college, working as writer and statistics producer for the Sports5 production team.
Noel Zarate: I was blogging for Yahoo Sports Philippines and was also selected to be among the announcers for the tournament by the SBP [Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas].
Sid Ventura: I was sports editor of Yahoo Philippines. The 2013 FIBA Asia Championship in Manila was our biggest local coverage at the time.
2. Where were you when the Gilas-Korea game happened?
Charlie: I was in the lower box of the MOA Arena seated in a row with my son, who was beside me, my brother, his son, and our friends - there were about 10 of us.
JC: I was one of the 18,000+ people in attendance, seated in the Lower Box section beside several friends from the media.
Jutt: I was inside the production van. Every game Gilas played in that tournament, I was there at the MOA Arena but backstage, inside the van, watching on a monitor like most Filipinos. I was lucky, though, because I could hear the roar of the thousands of fans whenever Gilas made a big play.
Noel: Beside assigned announcer (the late) Rolly Manlapaz, helping him with the substitutions and referees' hand signals because at the time we were not situated at the officials table but higher up.
Sid: The freezing cold media room of the Mall of Asia Arena. I opted to watch from there instead of the media area Courtside so that I could publish right away.
3. What's one play or moment that you will never forget?
Charlie: Ranidel's three. Jimmy hit one before it and another one after it, but Ranidel's three pointer somewhere near the endgame stood out in my mind because he was my favorite player on the team and it was one heck of a big shot for a big-time player. I remember shouting when the shot sank.
JC: That Jimmy Alapag triple with 54 seconds left in the game that gave us a five-point cushion is something I will always vividly remember. That pretty much sealed it for us. Jimmy Alapag is, and will forever be, the Patron Saint of Philippine basketball.
Jutt: It has to be the celebrations after the final buzzer. There were several memorable plays like Ping's putback and Jimmy's big three. But nothing was sweeter than when it was finally official and the team was celebrating. Jayson and Jimmy hugging it out. Larry on his knees. Gabe pointing to the sky. Coach Chot with his fist pounding his chest. Thousands of Filipinos shouting and crying for joy. It gives me chills just typing these down. Everything about that game was special. But the scene right after the final buzzer will forever be immortal.
Noel: Three things. First, when Marcus Douthit clutched his leg in the second quarter and knowing he reaggravated his injury he sustained against Qatar, it suddenly brought back memories of all the misfortunes of past battles against the Koreans. Second, that 10-0 run in the third playing all Filipino. Jayson Castro was in takeover mode and I had more than my fair share of fist pumps when the onslaught was happening. Third, Marc Pingris' final layup and seeing him run down court celebrating. I knew then that it was over and began crying.
Sid: Really? This has to be asked? Jimmy's 3 in the last minute of the game that made it 84-79. At that point the "no cheering" rule in the media room was pretty much discarded.
4. What was going through your head when we finally beat Korea?
Charlie: I was ecstatic. Knowing the consequence of having qualified for the FIBA WC and all the heartbreak the SoKors had caused us in basketball through the years, I was overcome with emotion and cried tears of joy. I fell to one knee and prayed. It was all happy thoughts, replaying the big plays, and enjoying looking around to see all the jubilation in the arena. I remember seeing our friends, Nikko Ramos and Tin Gamboa, seated nearby and we high-fived and screamed. We did it. We beat Korea. It was glorious!
JC: "We finally made it!" Joy and relief. It was overwhelming! I was screaming and jumping at the same time. The other media guys as well. Everyone was swapping high-fives, some were crying. All of us, for a brief moment, forgot that we were still on the job!
Jutt: It was a struggle, to be honest. I wish I had time to drop everything to take the moment in and celebrate with, but there was work to be done. There were stats to be dug up and graphics to be shown. It was just an incredible rush of emotions. I was just thankful to be there. It didn't matter if I was in a van watching through a monitor instead of seeing the game live from the stands, it was still a moment I shared with Gilas. It was a moment all of us shared.
Noel: Every bitter defeat was being manually deleted in my head: 1986 when Allan Caidic was called for that bogus offensive foul. Deleted. 2002 when Lee Sang Min got lucky. Deleted. 2011 when Cho singlehandedly erased all our hard work. Deleted. All the emotions of those stinging losses were replaced by elation and a lot of tears of joy.
Sid: Holy crap we finally beat Korea. Holy crap we're going to the World Cup. Holy crap I'm crying.
5. Who was the MVP for Gilas in that game?
Charlie: What an overall team effort it was, but co-MVPs for me were Jimmy and Marc Pingris. Jimmy hit the biggest shots and orchestrated well, while Ping was at his hustling best. He provided the extra energy and grit that helped push us over the top.
JC: The people who supported Gilas. It was surreal to have everyone on the same side -- shouting the same name, rooting for the same team, praying for the same goal.
Jutt: Several guys really stepped up in that game. With Marcus Douthit getting injured, the locals had to come up big. Jayson had 17 points. Ping had a 16 & 10 double-double. But I think my MVP would still be Jimmy Alapag. He had 14 points on 4-for-7 shooting from deep. He hit the dagger in the crucial moments and he showed leadership throughout the game.
Noel: The Filipino people in attendance. When Douthit went down, the crowd cheered even louder at every positive Gilas churned out. It was a day that everyone united to will our team to victory; not by distracting the Koreans, but by giving Gilas that emotional edge to accomplish the mission.
Sid: Jimmy hit the biggest shot but I think Marc Pingris' performance in that game has been overlooked over the years. The man battled against a taller Korean Frontline and somehow made 7 of 8 shots, including the clincher off a follow up of a Jayson Castro miss. He also had that crucial steal that led to RDO's triple that made it 81-77.