Gilas Pilipinas beats Iran in its China tournament opener
MANILA, Philippines — Gilas Pilipinas kicked off its Heyuan WUS International Basketball Tournament campaign with a 76-65 win over Iran on Thursday evening in China.
The Philippine men’s basketball team, which continued to miss the services of NBA star Jordan Clarkson and 7-foot-3 center Kai Sotto, leaned on Jamie Malonzo and the young Gilas members as well as CJ Perez, who ignited his team’s late run in the third quarter where they started pulling away.
Gilas Pilipinas turned a slim 44-41 lead into a 13-point margin as Perez scored all his seven points late in the third to bring a commanding 59-46 advantage heading to the payoff period.
Calvin Oftana tallied the Filipinos’ biggest lead of the game, 22 points, during the fourth quarter after scoring a three-point play, 69-47, and never looked back to start their China camp on a high note ahead of the country’s hosting of the Fiba World Cup 2023 in three weeks.
Malonzo led the Gilas sans naturalized player with 11 points and six rebounds. Dwight Ramos and Oftana delivered 10 points each with the latter adding four rebounds and two assists, while AJ Edu posted nine points including the two-handed slam that sealed the match on top of nine rebounds.
Rhenz Abando and RR Pogoy also stepped up with eight points apiece with the latter tallying two rebounds, two assists, and a steal.
Gilas Pilipinas will continue its campaign against Senegal on Friday evening.
The Filipinas also continue to miss Scottie Thompson due to his hand injury. Sotto and Clarkson have yet to join the team.