Gilas whips Iran before Euro trip
GETTING the feel of an international atmosphere for the first time since being assembled three weeks ago, Gilas Pilipinas displayed great potential and drubbed Iran’s skeleton national team last night.
The Nationals opened up commanding leads early and easily brushed off a late challenge by the Iranians to prevail, 81-70, in a tuneup game at Smart Araneta Coliseum, a day before the team leaves for Europe for the meat of its Olympic Qualifying Tournament preparations.
Andray Blatche scored 20 points and had 11 rebounds, highlighting his performance with great plays on both ends in the stretch that saved the Philippine team from imploding after almost losing a 23-point lead.
Japeth Aguilar fired 10 of his 12 points in the first period that helped the Filipinos to a hot start, and three others finished with 11 or better with coach Tab Baldwin managing to save workhorse Calvin Abueva and June Mar Fajardo from playing extended minutes.
It was the first real game that these Nationals played ever since Baldwin assembled the group, and they didn’t disappoint as they opened up a 67-44 lead in the third period to the delight of the good-sized Big Dome crowd.
Coach Tab Baldwin used just 13 men and struck out the names of substitute naturalized player Moala Tautuaa and Cadet standout Keifer Ravena off the list of hopefuls that will go to Europe tomorrow.
Baldwin later on said that he and coaching staff will make one cut to finalize the 14-man team and begged off from disclosing that name. However, he sounded like it will boil down between the injured Jeff Chan and Marcio Lassiter, who has been sick with bronchitis for the past week.
“It’s a brutal decision for a head coach, it’s the worst part of the job,” Baldwin said. “I’ve done it many times and it never gets easy. I’ve been in tears making this decision before in my career.”
Iran came to the exhibition game without three of its biggest stars—the men who helped the Iranians become an Asian force.
NBA veteran Hamed Haddadi, heady point guard Mahdi Kamrani and Nikka Bahrami—arguably the finest swingman in Asia—all skipped the trip.
GILAS PILIPINAS 81—Blatche 20, Aguilar 12, Reyes 12, Romeo 12, Parks 11, De Ocampo 4, Fajardo 3, Castro 3, Pingris 2, Tenorio 2, Abueva 0, Norwood 0.
IRAN 70—Yakhchali 16, Sahakian 13, Mohammad 9, Jamshidi 8, Zangeneh 8, Arghavan 5, Farid 4, Kardoust 4, Mashayekhi 3, Amir 0, Dalirzahan 0, Kazemil 0.
Quarters: 29-15, 48-38, 67-50, 81-70.
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