Gilas Pilipinas falls short in valiant effort against mighty Iran in Asiad


Reigning FIBA Asia Championships and FIBA Asia Cup titlists Iran came through in the clutch to once again torment the Philippine national men’s basketball team, 68-63, to top Group E in the 2014 Asian Games basketball tournament in Incheon, Korea.

Gilas Pilipinas positioned itself as a true threat to Iran in this game, coming back from an early double-digit lead to hold the lead for much of the second half before eventually falling short in the end.

Iran scored the final seven points of the contest.

Veteran Samad Nikkhah Bahrami scored 21 points to lead Iran while former NBA player Hamed Haddadi posted 20 points and 15 rebounds in the games.

Paul Lee led the Philippines with 11 points while Marcus Douthit and LA Tenorio had 10 apiece.

The Iran offense was in full swing in the first quarter. Bahrami was in top form, hitting threes and driving to the basket for with ease to score 10 points while Haddadi manned the post admirably as the FIBA Asia champs looked to stamp their class in a second straight game.

They opened the game on a 19-6 run and closed the period with a 12-point advantage, 29-17.

But Gilas Pilipinas, bidding to win its first Asian Games gold in over 50 years, was not about to let Iran steamroll through without a real, credible fight.

After giving up 29 points in the first period, the Filipinos clamped down in the second period, allowing only seven points, even holding mighty Iran scoreless for a stretch of over four minutes.

Douthit anchored the steadfast Gilas defense, stuffing both Haddadi and point guard Mehdi Kamrani in their respective forays into the paint and even stepping out to block Bahrami on an attempt in the perimeter.

Iran entered the halftime break with their lead cut down to just two, 36-34.

Bahrami had 13 points while Haddadi had 10 at the half while the balanced Philippines offense was led by Douthit’s eight and Norwood’s seven.

The third quarter featured a game of runs for both teams.

Gilas Pilipinas took the lead in the third period after Paul Lee fired off five straight points – a three-pointer and a breakaway in transition – to give the Filipinos a 39-36 lead.

Iran would counter with six straight points later in the quarter, the last two on free throws off a Marc Pingris unsportsmanlike foul, to reclaim the lead at 43-41. But the Philippines sprung right back with a 10-1 run, kicked off by back-to-back three-pointers from LA Tenorio, to take a 51-44 advantage.

Iran fired off six unanswered points, coming to as close as one point, 51-50, before Gary David knocked down a midrange jumper to make it a three-point lead heading into the final period.

The Filipinos opened the fourth on a 7-3 run with Pingris knocking down one of two attempts from the free throw line to make it 60-53 as the Filipino supporters chanted ‘Sakuragi’ from the stands.

But Haddadi scored in the post and and Kamrani erupted for six straight points, a free throw, a layup and a three-pointer, as the 8-0 run erased Gilas’ lead and put Iran up 61-60.

Lee knocked down a free throw and Norwood ran the floor with Jeff Chan to earn a trip of his own to the line and make it 63-61 for the Filipinos.

But it was the veteran Bahrami taking over in the endgame. He scored five consecutive points on a field goal and three out of four free throws to put the Asian powerhouses up, 66-63, with just 22 seconds remaining.

Haddadi hit two more free throws to seal the final margin.

Iran finished on top of the group with a 2-0 record while Gilas will also enter the quarterfinals with a 1-1 mark.

India was the third team in Group E and was eliminated at 0-2 after their loss to Iran yesterday.

The scores:
Iran (68) – Bahrami 21, Haddadi 20, Kamrani 12, Arghavan 6, Jamshidi 3, Yakhchali 3, Afagh 2, Mashayekhi 1, Zangeneh 0, Sahakian 0.

Gilas Pilipinas (63) – Lee 11, Douthit 10, Tenorio 10, Norwood 9, De Ocampo 6, Pingris 5, David 4, Chan 3, Dillinger 3, Fajardo 2, Aguilar 0, Alapag 0.

Quarterscores: 29-17, 36-34, 50-53, 68-63.

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