Korea head coach Cho Sang-hyun said he does not exactly see the Philippines as a rival following a second consecutive loss to Gilas Pilipinas on Sunday to close out their campaign in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.
However, the 44-year-old coach did admit that he picked up new learnings after two hard-fought games on the road in Angeles City, Pampanga.
"I, personally, don't really think of the Philippines as a rival," expressed Cho through a translator. "But I always find very useful things after playing against the Philippines. That's what (my perspective is) on this game as well."
Cho was appointed by the Korean Basketball Association to the post just last May after having served as an assistant to Kim Sang-Shik, who had been head coach since 2019. He once wore the flag for the Koreans and was actually part of the team that had caused heartbreak for Filipinos in the 2002 Asian Games.
Under Cho, Korea handily beat Indonesia and Thailand by an average of 45 points but lost to the Philippines twice -- and for the first time since the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, where a Gilas team led by Jimmy Alapag, Jayson Castro and LA Tenorio beat the Koreans to book a ticket to the 2014 World Cup.
"Comparing the two generations in the Philippine national team, the previous ones, their guards were their strong points. But in this generation, for example Kai Sotto, they have a great big man on the roster and they put us in a hard position to play against them," said big man Lee Seounghyun.
Despite being swept by Gilas, Korea still advanced to the FIBA Asia Cup in Indonesia in August after finishing second in Group A with a 4-2 record.
"First of all, I'd like to thank my players who played their best. But there are some areas that we need to work on," shared the Koreans' ex-national team stalwart-turned-mentor. "Overall, we took a really good lesson in Clark by figuring out the weaknesses of our team."
Before flying to Jakarta for the regional tournament, Korea will first try to book a ticket to Tokyo through the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Lithuania, where they will be going up against Venezuela and Lithuania on June 30 and July 1, respectively.
"For these games in Clark, I gave a lot of opportunities to the younger ones, but for the Olympic Qualifiers, I'd like to figure out the strong points that we learned from this experience. That is what I'm aiming for: to get qualified for the Olympics," he expressed.