Pitted against the continent’s powerhouse in the last half-decade, Gilas Pilipinas showcased what it is capable of, serving a statement that rings across the basketball world.
The Philippines used a humongous second half surge to repel a challenge from reigning gold medal winner Iran and book an 87-73 win Monday in the second round of the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha, China.
The victory pushed Gilas to 3-1 in Group E, clearing the path for a first-seed if they beat India in their final second round assignment tomorrow.
Iran, which went unbeaten in the tournament so far, dropped its first in five outings as it also settled for a 3-1 card in the second round.
Down by 10 early in the third quarter after Samad Nikkhah Bahrami went on a mini-spurt which included a trey, Andray Blatche and Jayson Castro teamed up, dishing a 9-0 run o pull the nationals within 46-47.
Back to back triples by Dondon Hontiveros and Gabe Norwood later on allowed Gilas to knot the count at 52 apiece, before Terrence Romeo’s long distance connection after two foul shots by Mehdi Kamrani gave Gilas the 55-54 lead.
Building momentum from the surge, the Gilas onslaught continued as Romeo put on a show while drives by Blatche and Calvin Abueva made it 65-60 for Gilas after the third.
Baskets by Hamad Haddadi and Bahrami to open the fourth period pulled Iran to within 64-67, but the Philippines stepped up defensively to generate stops and baskets in transition.
Abueva, Blatche, and Castro helped transform the Gilas lead to double-digits at 80-67 with drive after drive, as the Philippines became an unstoppable force in the payoff period to seal the win.
Castro topscored for the Philippines with 26 points including 9-for-13 two-point field goals, showing his unparalleled speed in the match. Blatche added 18 points and 7 boards while Romeo and Abueva contributed 15 and 13 points, respectively.
Gilas shot 41 percent from three-point area and edged the taller Iranian side in the rebounding department, 40-39. They also has 12 steals as Iran committed 16 turnovers.
Castro displayed his arsenal early, with a triple pushing Gilas’ lead to 16-11 in the first period.
However, Bahrami and Mohammed Jamshidi attacked the basket repeatedly against the poor Gilas defense as Iran took a 25-22 lead after the first.
A 9-2 run behind 5 from Bahrami later on turned a slim 33-32 Iran lead into a 42-34 bubble. Gilas was able to hold off Iran after that point before going on a burst in the third quarter where it outscored Iran, 28-17.
Bahrami had 21 points to lead the West Asian side. Hamed Haddadi was limited to 10 points and 7 rebounds.
Blatche denies Iran
Romeo’s step back three
Dray with a reverse
Philippines (87) – Castro 26, Blatche 18, Romeo 15, Abueva 13, De Ocampo 5, Norwood 5, Hontiveros 3, Taulava 2, Intal 0, Pingris 0, Ganuelas 0, Thoss 0.
Iran (73) – Bahrami 21, Mashayekhi 11, Kamrani 11, Haddadi 10, Davari 9, Jamshidi 7, Hassanzadeh 2, Sahakian 0, Afagh 0, Yakhchalidekordi 0, Davarpanahfard 0.
Quarterscores: 22-25, 37-43, 65-60, 87-73.
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