Knights claim 3rd place over Bolts, extend "Korean Curse" to FIBA Asia Champions Cup
NONTHABURI (FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2018) - The “Korean Curse” that hangs over the heads of Philippines basketball is still in effect, as the SK Knights hang on tightly to win the battle for 3rd place 91-87 over the Meralco Bolts.
The SK Knights were at a disadvantage when Dajuan Summers (26 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists) fouled out of the game with 3:32 left in the game, but managed to stay ahead with cold-blooded shooting from Choi Wonhyuk and Choi Bukyung.
The Knights were already in a tough situation from the start with Byun Kihun sidelined for the game after starring for most of the tournament in prior games.
The two teams started out evenly and were left tied in the 1st quarter at 25-25, but the fouls were piling up for the SK Knights. Baser Amer was looking to have a terrific game with 12 points in the first quarter, but would not score again the entire game.
Meralco took advantage of the foul situation and burst out for a 9-0 run. The run seemed to have awoken the SK Knights as they rattled back with a massive 17-0 run of their own highlighted by back-to-back threes from Kim Minsoo. The seasoned veteran was a main contributor for the Knights with 14 points from 4 three-pointers and 8 rebounds.
After the halftime break which the SK Knights were holding on to a 46-38 lead, the Meralco Bolts started to fight back. Rommel Nino “KG” Canaleta fired off four consecutive three-pointers to make it a close game once again and the quarter ended with the Bolts leading 63-62.
The game continued to be a tale of runs and the SK Knights broke off with an 11-2 run on three big triples, which built up a big enough lead for the Knights. Even as Summers picked up his 4th and 5th fouls towards the end of the game, the Knights were able to keep their cool and finish with poise.
The Korean Basketball League champions stalled the game down and ended their possessions efficiently to the frustration of the Meralco Bolts who made push after push to overtake the lead.
Wonhyuk and Bukyung had not been putting up much the entire tournament but combined for 27 big points in this game, including the crucial daggers down the stretch. Diamond Stone (32 points and 12 points) and Allen Durham (21 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists) played the entire game but weren’t able to put in the final touches to get the Bronze for the first PBA club to ever play at the FIBA Asia Champions Cup.
With the win the SK Knights are able to claim a Bronze Medal in their first ever FIBA Asia Champions Cup appearance and the first appearance for a Korean club since 2009.