MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Gilas Pilipinas used a strong third quarter run to upset rivals and defending champions Iran, 87-73, in the second round of the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship on Monday, September 28 in Changsha, Hunan, China.
With the win, the Philippines secured a quarterfinals slot and may end up as the top seed entering the playoffs should they defeat India on Tuesday. Gilas currently sits at the top spot of Group E with a 3-1 record.
Gilas took down 17th ranked Iran for the first time since the 2012 William Jones Cup, but without Hamed Haddadi. The last time they beat Iran with Haddadi was in the 2011 Jones Cup.
This is the first loss of Iran at this year’s FIBA Asia tournament.
Jayson Castro, known internationally as Jayson William, shot 11-of-18 from the field to post a game-high 26 points. Naturalized big man Andray Blatche, who sprained his ankle a day before against Japan, still played and finished with 18 points and 7 rebounds.
Gunner Terrence Romeo added 15 points on 3-of-5 shooting from downtown as he helped buoy Gilas’ third quarter burst.
Calvin Abueva contributed 13 points, 6 rebounds and a steal but his true value goes beyond the stat sheet with his effort and hustle. His relentless aggressiveness and mind games resulted in Iran’s 7-foot-2 behemoth Haddadi fouling out with under 4 minutes to go with a regular foul and a technical for complaining.
The Philippines struggled early and trailed by 6 points at halftime before outscoring Iran 28-17 in the third quarter to take a 65-60 advantage entering the fourth period.
Iran led by as much as 10 in the third but the Filipinos went on a run and shut down the Iranians offensively to take the lead. The inspired Gilas performance went on in the fourth frame and took a 14-point edge with a minute left to play.
Despite the size disadvantage, the Philippines out-rebounded Iran by a hair, 40-39. The nationals were also on target with a 46.8% field goal shooting clip compared to just 40.3% for Iran.
Though smaller, the Filipinos bravely attacked the basket all throughout the game and it earned them 30 free throw attempts – of which they made 20. Iran only had 8-of-15 makes from the stripe.
Veteran guard Mahdi Kamrani, 33, got outclassed by Castro as he had just 11 points on a paltry 3-of-12 shooting from the field and 3 assists.
Forward Mohammad Nik Khahbahrami topscored for the previously unbeaten Iranians with 21 points on 5-of-8 triples. Haddadi was limited to just 10 points and 7 rebounds as Iran fell to 3-1 in Group E.
For its final assignment in the second round, the Philippines will clash with 61st ranked India on Tuesday, September 29.
Philippines (87): Castro 26, Blatche 18, Romeo 15, Abueva 13, De Ocampo 5, Norwood 5, Hontiveros 3, Taulava 2, Thoss 0, Ganuelas 0, Pingris 0, Intal 0.
Iran (73): Khahbahrami 21, Mashayekhi 11, Kamrani 11, Haddadi 10, Davari 9, Jamshidijafarabadi 7, Davarpanahfardkarekani 2, Hassanzadeh Saberi 2, Yakhchalidehkordi 0, Afagh 0, Kardoustpoustinsaraei 0, Sahakian 0.
Quarter scores: 22-25, 37-43, 65-60, 87-73.