Gilas Pilipinas falls to mighty Iran in Asian Games

Jane Bracher
Gilas led by as many as 7 in the fourth before Iran streaked to win their fourth straight over the Philippines in this nonbearing Asian Games match

DENIED. Iran downs Gilas for the fourth straight time. File photo by Nuki Sabio

MANILA, Philippines (2nd Update) – Gilas Pilipinas once again fell to regional giants Iran as they succumbed, 68-63, in Group E of the 2014 Asian Games on Thursday, September 25 in Incheon, South Korea. 

The 2013 FIBA Asia champions Iran continue to be the bane for the Philippine national men’s basketball team, winning their fourth straight meeting dating back to the 2012 FIBA Asia Cup in Tokyo. 

Gilas trailed 29-17 after Iran opened with a hot-shooting first quarter but limited Iran to just 7 points in the second to trail 36-34 at the half. Gilas held a 7-point lead in the fourth quarter but was outscored 18-10 en route to the defeat. 

The Philippines finished the qualifying round at 1-1 and settled for a second seed heading into the quarterfinals, while Iran remains unbeaten after wins over the Philippines and India. 

Gilas moves to Group H for the quarterfinals together with Kazakhstan. Depending on match results, Gilas could be on a collision course with longtime rivals South Korea should the hosts win their game against Jordan today. The final slot for Group H will go to the winner of the Qatar versus Japan contest.

Quarterfinals are single round robin and the top two teams from Groups G and H will make up the semis cast where it will be crossover knockout matches.

Gilas blew a 60-53 lead early in the payoff period as Iran closed the match on a 15-3 run. 

A three-pointer from guard Mehdi Kamrani (12 points) gave the Iranians the lead, 60-61, with 4:08 on the clock. 

Gabe Norwood pushed Gilas ahead for the last time, 63-61, on a pair of free throws with just over two minutes to go. But Iran’s Nikkhah Bahrami tied the count at 63 and later scored 3 of his 4 free throws to give Iran some cushion, 66-63, with 22.3 ticks remaining.

After allowing Iran to shoot 67% in the opening quarter and zoom past them, 19-6, the Philippines came alive on the defensive end, clogging the paint and forcing Iran to the outside.

Gilas packed some steam come the second frame, limiting Iran to just 7 markers for 10 minutes to stay within striking distance.

The nationals’ momentum did not waver in the second half as they grabbed their first lead of the game, 39-36, on a three-pointer and a fastbreak basket by Paul Lee.

A Marcus Douthit jumper gave Gilas its biggest lead of the ballgame at 7 points, 51-44, at the 2:41 mark of the third. 

Douthit, who was unable to see action against Iran at last year’s FIBA Asia due to an injury, scored 8 points for Gilas in the first 20 minutes. He sat out most of the fourth period, however, due to foul trouble. He finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Chot Reyes’ wards, coming off an inspired FIBA World Cup stint, sputtered towards the end despite shooting 35% from three-point land and 88% from the stripe. Iran outrebounded Gilas, 45-35. 

Lee topscored for Gilas with 11 markers while LA Tenorio and Norwood added 10 and 9 points, respectively.

Big man Hamed Haddadi and Bahrami led the charge for Iran. The NBA veteran Haddadi registered 18 points and 15 rebounds, while Bahrami wound up with 23 markers. –

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