Asian Games: Iran tests worth of Gilas Pilipinas | Inquirer Sports

Asian Games: Iran tests worth of Gilas Pilipinas

By: - Sports Editor / @ftjochoaINQ
/ 02:13 AM September 25, 2014

GILAS Pilipinas gunner Jeff Chan fakes a shot off two Indian guards in Tuesday’s game. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

GILAS Pilipinas gunner Jeff Chan fakes a shot off two
Indian guards in Tuesday’s game. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

INCHEON, South Korea—There was a distinct sense of awareness among Gilas Pilipinas players as they prepared for a practice session inside the well-lit gymnasium of Jemulpo High School, a mid-sized institution located in the quiet and hilly Jun-Dong town of Incheon City’s Jung-Gu borough.

The Gilas team debuted with an 85-76 win over India Tuesday in the men’s basketball competition at the 17th Asian Games here, but it was a win that made the Filipinos realize how much more work they have to put into a campaign to end a 52-year gold-medal drought.

“We have to clean up our turnovers,” skipper Jimmy Alapag bluntly put it.

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Gilas committed 20 turnovers against India, an erratic display it cannot afford to repeat when it faces Asian champion and perennial tormentor Iran at 2 p.m. (1 p.m. in Manila) Thursday at Hwaseong Sports Complex gym here.

The game has little implication outside of quarterfinal bracketing, but there was little indication, too, that Gilas Pilipinas will treat it as a meaningless encounter despite both teams already having qualified to the next round.

“We’re going to go flat out for the win,” said National coach Chot Reyes. “It would be very un-Gilas for us to do otherwise.”

“We know and Iran knows that we’re going to cross paths somewhere along the way,” said Alapag.

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“This will be a good way to gauge where we are at this point.” “We have not beaten Iran for a long time,” added forward Marc Pingris in Filipino.

The last time the Philippines beat Iran in an international meet was in the 2012 Jones Cup, where Gilas Pilipinas hammered out a 77-75 victory over the current Asian heavyweight on the way to the championship.

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To author a repeat, the team needs a quantum leap from its show against India.

“Hopefully, we’ll have a better game than we had against India,” said LA Tenorio, the MVP of that Jones Cup title run. “We need to be almost perfect against Iran.”

Iran, which beat India on Wednesday, 76-41, has given a hint that it won’t take the preliminary round showdown lightly.

Noted basketball blogger Nick Bedard reported that after Iran’s triumph over India, star center Hamed Haddadi was asked by a Korean reporter what he thought about the host squad.

“I’m only concerned about the Philippines,” replied Haddadi.

While the Iranians are still favored over the Filipinos, Paul Lee believes the team has a good chance against them.

“But we have to help each other,” said Lee in Filipino. “Iran is a strong team. Hindi kami puwedeng maging erratic.”

“We’ll prepare hard and we’ll come out hard so let’s see what happens,” added Tenorio.

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Gilas Pilipinas yields gold medal to Iran in FIBA Asia

TAGS: 17th Asian Games, Gilas Pilipinas

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