Jakarta—When Yeng Guiao and the Philippine Basketball Team plunge into action possibly against Korea on Monday in the 2018 Asian Games here, they will have to contend with a well-oiled machine that boasts of good ball movement, impeccable outside shooting and an all-around naturalized player in Ricardo Ratliffe.
“We just have to prepare hard,” said Guiao, noting the Koreans move well without the ball and shoot remarkably from practically everywhere. “Korea is getting balanced contributions.”
Those balanced contributions are led by Ratliffe, who was so impressive in the Korean Basketball League, he was naturalized by the basketball federation to be part of its basketball team.
Ratliffe, himself was a former Philippine Basketball Association import for the Star Hotshots. He made a good account of himself for Team Korea as he scored 21 points in their 117-77 demolition of Thailand as the defending champions completed a three-game sweep of their group in the preliminaries.
The former MVP of the Jones Cup during its 2014 edition is averaging 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Koreans, but he is definitely not the only one Guiao’s wards must watch out for.
During Korea’s won game against the Thais, six players scored in double figures, led by Ratliffe.
“The best thing about Korea is they’ve been so patient running their plays. They rely on their ball movement and would wait for an opportunity to break down the defense and attack it,” Guiao said.
Like all Korean teams before, this one shoots well from beyond the arc.
In their three preliminary matches, the Koreans shot 40-percent and above from three, with their best-shooting performance coming in their Thailand game, where they hit 47-percent from the three-point region, sinking 15 of 32 attempts.
Deadshot Jeon Junbeom contributed five of those 15 treys in just eight attempts, on the way to finishing with 20 points. He also had a solid showing against Mongolia, where he knocked down 4-of-6 treys to end up with 16 markers.
Another player to watch out for is 6’1” guard Heo Ung, who is averaging 12 points per game for the Koreans, including a perfect 3-for-3 shooting from beyond the arc in their latest win against Thailand.
Heo Ilyoung and Lee Junghyun, two of the holdover players from the squad that played four years ago, remained solid contributors.
If Guiao can devise ways to minimize the contributions of these five, then his Rain or Shine-led wards can greatly increase their chances of bringing down the defending champions.
The team is coming off a heartbreaking 80-82 loss to China, following a 96-59 beating of Kazakhstan in the prelims.