Smart Gilas Pilipinas misses trip to finals, tries to salvage bronzeBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine men’s basketball squad lost the chance to move through to the gold medal match of the Fiba Asia Cup, after losing 77-60 to Iran Friday.
Smart Gilas Pilipinas, after a great run in the tournament, failed to break through Iran’s sturdy interior defense while hampered by early foul trouble on its entire frontline.
All is not lost for the Philippines though, as it still has a chance at a crack for an outright berth to next year’s Fiba Asia Championship if it triumphs in the battle for third.
The offense didn’t go smoothly for the Filipinos with only three players reaching double digits, and finding no answer to everything Niklha Bahrami, Jamshidi Jafarabadi and the Iranians threw.
Marcus Douthit was hobbled with four fouls with no attempts from the stripe but still finished with 11 points while LA Tenorio and Jared Dillinger added 13 markers apiece.
The Philippines just took nine shots from the free throw area while Iran had 30 attempts, a testament at how Smart Gilas couldn’t gain control of the paint.
Sonny Thoss fouled out in the fourth period just after Ranidel De Ocampo, who’s always played a key role for Smart Gilas, picked up his fourth personal.
Smart Gilas was already within reach, trimming the lead to just three off the effort led by Gabe Norwood with a few minutes left in the third quarter.
But it was a failure to contain Iran in a stretch that resulted to an 11-0 blast bridging the third and fourth quarters which keyed in Gilas Pilipinas’ demise.
Asghaer Kardoust made Philippines pay with 12 markers, as he also paved way for a dagger trey from Afagh Eslamieh midway the payoff period after an unsportsmanlike foul from Enrico Villanueva.
Jafarabri also came out as a surprise of the bench for Iran, finishing with 13 points mostly in the fourth quarter where his squad commanded over.