Gilas Pilipinas yields gold medal to Iran in FIBA AsiaBy Celest R. Flores, Mark Giongco
MANILA, Philippines – After securing a slot for next year’s FIBA World Cup in Spain, the Philippines satisfyingly settled for second place following a 71-85 loss to Iran in their gold medal match at the 27th FIBA Asia Men’s Championship Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Without the injured Marcus Douthit, Gilas Pilipinas was left without a legitimate center to contain Iran’s seven-foot-two center Hamed Hadadi.
Hadadi, who was named MVP for the third time, caused problems for Gilas on both ends of the floor as he easily came away with 29 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks.
Jayson William, who joined Hadadi in the mythical five, managed to squeeze out another impressive effort with a team-high 18 points, including two freebies that gave the Nationals a 36-35 lead to start the third quarter.
But it was all Iran from there after William’s charities.
Iran, the lone squad who went unbeaten all throughout the tournament, shifted to a higher gear in the second half behind Hadadi, who was just too big for Gilas’ undersized big men Japeth Aguilar, Ranidel de Ocampo and an ailing Marc Pingris to handle.
Down 10, Gilas saw its deficit balloon to 16, 56-72, after three straight inside baskets by the former Memphis Grizzlies reserve Hadadi with 5:08 left.
The 28-year-old Hadadi scored for the final time to put the outcome beyond doubt, 78-63, in the final 2:57 before fouling out 13 seconds later.
Forward Samad Nikkhah Bahrami also caused fits for the Philippines with 19 points and seven assists despite committing seven turnovers while veteran point guard Mahdi Kamrany chipped in 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Jimmy Alapag chipped in 13 points while Jeff Chan had eight.