My first visit to Manila, Philippines. Five days ago, with the fatigue of a 10-day trip to Japan still fresh in my mind, I boarded a plane for Manila, Philippines.
Departure time 7:50. I woke up to the sound of my phone ringing at 4:30 a.m. and hurried to Incheon Airport with the luggage I had packed the previous evening. I met my Filipino companion at Exit 1 of Sinsa Station, my stopover, and we hurried to the airport.
After a 20-minute drive on Olympic Avenue, I picked up my car at Incheon Airport Expressway, which starts in Banghwa-dong, and drove for over 30 minutes to arrive at Incheon Airport Terminal 2.
It was a little after 6pm, the terminal was quieter than usual, and I had no trouble getting my luggage to the Philippines and checking out of the country. There were more travelers than on my last visit to Japan, and after a short wait, I was able to complete all the formalities for my flight to the Philippines.
I boarded the plane after feeling like I hadn’t been to Incheon Airport Terminal 2 in a long time. The airport felt both relaxing and tranquil. The plane was quieter than I expected. There were more Filipinos traveling back home than Koreans. There were a lot of empty seats, so I was able to head to the Philippines in a relaxed mood.
The flight took off on time, and after a little over three hours, I arrived at my first destination, Ninoy Aquino Airport in Manila. Summer was winding down in South Korea and fall was on its way, but the weather in Manila was hot and humid, reminiscent of mid-to-late August. The airport landscape and exterior looked like Daegimpo Airport in 1980. There were some dilapidated buildings and an iron-fenced parking lot.
After a while, the front of the line departed for their accommodations, and I waited for maybe 20 minutes. I was in the back of the line, so I piled into a Starex-like car with my group and headed to the hotel. It took us about 30 minutes to get there. The road into the city was lined with houses from the 70s and 80s in Korea.
I walked to my hostel with a lot of different feelings in my heart and the first feeling of visiting Manila for the first time. As I entered the city, I was greeted by tall buildings that reminded me of Gangnam and Yeouido in Korea, and it wasn’t long before I reached my hostel.
Upon arrival, I was able to meet the coaching staff and see the bright smile of Changwon LG head coach Cho Sang-hyun.
We went to a nearby large shopping mall for lunch, and after a short break at the hostel, we met up with the coaching staff again for dinner. In the supermarket in the basement of the mall, I could see a familiar brand. The keyword is ‘familiar’.
The LG team arrived in Manila on the 20th and had already played three practice games. The schedule called for eight scrimmages in 10 days, and they were a third of the way through. Starting with UP, which had already traveled to Korea, the team played against the national team and Converse, the sixth-ranked team in the PBA’s first division.
After coming out of the 21st game unscathed, LG suffered an injury on the 22nd when Justin Gutang sprained his ankle in the Philippine national team game, and in yesterday’s (23rd) game, Kim Jun-hyung was hit by an opponent’s elbow and suffered a small cut near his cheekbone.
Philippine basketball is known for its roughness. In three games, two players have been sidelined due to injury. In Gutang’s case, we were told that he was a bit amped up because he was playing against his home country’s national team, while Kim Jun-hyung’s injury was a bit more unfortunate.
“I think Gutang wanted to show something. He played too aggressively from the start. I think he wanted to show something. He made a layup and stepped on his opponent’s foot on the way down. It will take him about three weeks to recover. I feel bad for (Kim) Jun-hyung. He practiced too much during the offseason. I’m sure it was a great experience for him, playing all the games in the Philippines. He flew back to Korea today (Sunday). We will check their injuries through a medical examination.”
That’s what the club official said about the status of the two players. In any case, both players had the unfortunate circumstance of being pulled from training past the first day of training camp (Gutang returned to play on the 26th).
The next day, on the 25th, LG was scheduled to play PBA powerhouse TNT, but the game was canceled due to internal reasons. The LG front desk told us that they quickly organized a return match against UP, the team they played on the first day.
As lunchtime approached, the group that had agreed to accompany me to the gym settled for a burger and chicken lunch at Jollibee, a famous burger franchise in the Philippines. The food was better than expected. After eating and chatting about various topics, the group headed to the UPPER DECK Sports Center where the game was scheduled.
It was about a 10-minute walk from the hostel. The walk from the hostel to the gym was an overlap of the modern and the past. It was a very short walk, but an unusual one, with a mix of streetscapes and skyscrapers that looked like something out of Call Me By Your Name 1994.
Afterward, I was able to catch up with the team about the events that had taken place in Manila over the past three days.
After Saturday’s game, the Converse team captain even bought the entire team dinner because he felt bad about Kim Jun-hyung’s injury. It was a compensation for Kim Jun-hyung’s injury and a bad referee call, and it was a warm gesture from the Filipino.
Coach Cho Sang-hyun summarized the three days as follows. Coach Cho missed two games due to the rookie draft on the 21st. It seemed to show that he had good communication with the coaching staff.
“It was a game where we practiced well. Our players practiced very well against the Filipino guard’s pressure. There were a lot of regrets along the way, but it was 120% effective in terms of the first keyword, which was practice.”
He said that the effectiveness of the practice was maximized by the physicality of Philippine basketball compared to Korea.
He also shared many stories about the previous three games. They talked about their impressions from the three games, their homework, their previous visits to the Philippines, and their stories from their playing days. That was the end of the first day. The night ended in Manila, my first time in the Philippines.
The conversation with Han Sang-wook was also interesting.
“In the last three games, our free throw percentage has dropped dramatically. Especially Marei and Lee Seung-woo. I heard that in the game against the Philippines, they only made 11 out of 20. The same was true for Gutang, who was injured. “Gutang trained really hard in Korea. It’s a shame. I hope his free throw percentage improves in the remaining games.”
During that time, I was able to sit down with LG officials to get a sense of their preparations for the 2023-24 season, the state of their roster, and their engagement with the Philippines. First up, LG announced that they were signing an MOU with UP University. The main areas of communication will be the smooth conduct of practice games and the exchange of information on the Asian Quarterfinals. Later on, LG added that they will also sign an MOU with a professional team to further expand their relationship with the Philippines.
We arrived at the gymnasium just in time to feel a bit of heat. It’s a six-story building with two basketball courts and six badminton courts on the sixth floor. It was a bit different from a typical Korean gym, which is a sign of the country’s basketball culture.
In Korea, private and school gyms have a single basketball court, but it is mostly used by badminton clubs. My gaze toward the two basketball courts separated from the badminton court was one of envy.
Players from both teams arrived at the gym early and spent over an hour warming up, and 20 minutes before the game time, LG signed an MOU with UP University. It was like a ‘promise’ for a smooth exchange.
After a group photo with both teams, the game began. UP was the first opponent of LG’s training camp. They lost. They needed revenge.
LG started Yang Jun-seok, Lee Kwan-hee, Jung In-duk, Jung Hee-jae, and Asem Marei. The result was an 87-77 win. It was a tight start, but with five minutes left in the first quarter, LG started to pull away with more focus and balance on offense. UP was unable to offer much resistance. They took a 26-20 lead in the second quarter, but were unable to sustain the LG surge in the third quarter and conceded the game early.
In the middle of the fourth quarter, LG was able to play its backups, including Lee Seung-hoon and Park Joon-hyung, to close out the game. It was garbage time. With a 10-point win, LG avenged their Game 1 loss in style.
Afterward, the team had a dinner with the LG Philippines team. The head of LG Philippines invited the team to a Chinese restaurant for the players, who might feel tired after back-to-back practice games. The team was able to enjoy a hearty dinner thanks to the generosity of LG Philippines.
And so another day in the Philippines passed. The team was able to celebrate their victory, and the reporter was able to get a feel for Philippine basketball on the ground, albeit with a college team. The performance was unbelievable for a first-round loss, but it was two hours of recognizable trends that ran through them. The keywords were Tough or Hard. Being a college team, there was a certain roughness to them. There was a clear difference in skill level from the Filipino players playing in Korea.
For reference, there are two college leagues in the Philippines. The NCWA and the UAAP. Only Filipino college players can play in the former, while the latter allows players with foreign nationality to play in the league. UP is in the former category, the Korean equivalent of Seoul National University. There is a 50-50 ratio of players who make it to the PBA.
After the game, we had an interview with Yang Jun-seok, which lasted about 10 minutes, and I got the impression that he was calm. He was also serious. He continued the interview with the analytical skills of a guard. He shared his simple goal of having a healthy season. On this day, Yang Jun-suk played a perfect game in the fourth match of the pre-season training. He didn’t seem to be in a bad mood either.
Night came quickly, and another day passed in the Philippines as the team continued to explore Philippine basketball, analyze LG’s lineup, and plan their game plan.
On the morning of the 26th, the team had a light workout at 9am for an hour. With a scrimmage scheduled for 2:30 p.m., they were not supposed to do anything too strenuous. Head coach Cho Sang-hyun gave a similar answer.
After a short morning, we headed to the UPPER DECK Sports Center, where the game was to be played shortly after lunch. We arrived around 1:30. It was an hour before the game. The opposing team’s players were already warming up on the field, and the LG players arrived at the gym in pairs.
It was sweltering outside. It was the most intense heat I’d felt during my three-day stay. The sun’s rays were so strong that I could feel them on my skin. As I mentioned earlier, the distance between my hostel and the gym is not long. This made it easy to feel the heat of the Philippines for a short time.
The LG players also took time to warm up by taping, stretching, and shooting. There was a small concern. It was the rain. LG dominated Teripalma from the start and didn’t look back.
Dante Cunningham led the offense with 26 points and eight rebounds, while Lee Kwan-hee (12 points, two rebounds, and two assists), Yoo Yoo-sang (14 points), and Yang Jun-seok dished out 10 assists.
I’m impressed with Cunningham’s body management. He looks like he could play in the league right now. He was a legendary player in the NBA. Yoo Yoo-sang made his mark as an LG player in only his second game. Not only did he score, but his ability to find space and his focus on defense deserved high marks. Every player on the field did their part. The game was a testament to the depth of LG’s squad.
Teripalma is a lower tier team in the PBA. Last season, they finished 9th out of 12 teams. In the PBA, there is a big difference between the top and bottom teams. The ninth-place team had no foreign players. While traditional PBA powerhouses like San Miguel, TNT, and NLEX invest heavily in their rosters, Teripalma is said to be a team that is consistently at the bottom of the standings.
Two guards and a center were impressive, especially one who, despite being over 40 years old, had skills and senses that belied his age. The center had a level of skill that belied his age. The word “guru” came to mind.
Standing well over 6-foot-5, the center had a three-point shooting advantage. He could defend inside and looked like he could shoot. He attempted threes without difficulty and had a good shooting stance and percentage. I thought it would be great to see him in the KBL. He may have had some issues in transition, but he looked like a viable second option.
The two games didn’t give me a clear picture of the quality and color of basketball in the Philippines. I think it’s because they were against college and lower-level professional teams, and they drew the next game. This made me think, “What would it have been like to watch one more game?
That was the end of my first local experience with Philippine basketball, 카지노사이트and I ended the third day’s schedule after passing by the dinner table. During the meal, we had a lot of discussions about the reality of basketball in the Philippines.
Currently, the PBA is not very favorable towards the Asian quarter. Many players are now going to Korea and Japan, which is the main reason for the decline in the PBA’s performance. While the exchange is definitely a positive, there are concerns that the continued outflow of players will lead to a decline in quality.
On the morning of our fourth day back in Korea, my first thought was, “It seems like we just got here a few hours ago.” The next four days in the Philippines flew by like a breeze, and we headed to Ninoy Aquino Airport for our flight home.
After breakfast, we packed our bags and at 9:30, after saying goodbye to the team, we piled into the vans and headed to the airport. On the way from the hostel to the airport, I passed by the now signature Manila traffic congestion and the 1970s Korean neighborhoods that I could see near the airport. I thought to myself, “I live in a very nice environment.
With that thought in mind, we arrived at the airport, checked in, and boarded the plane. It was the beginning of the end of our 14-day trip in September. It was a great way to experience basketball in Japan and the Philippines.