Gilas Pilipinas escapes Iran to reach Asian Games semifinals
MANILA, Philippines–Gilas Pilipinas averted disaster on Tuesday, holding off Iran late for an 84-83 victory in the 19th Asian Games men’s basketball quarterfinals in Hangzhou, China.
Justin Brownlee had 36 points for the Filipinos, who reached the continental meet’s semifinal for the first time since 2002.
“You got to give a lot of credit to Iran. They were down big and they never gave up. They kind of struggled early but you could just see how good a team they are in the fourth quarter and how well-coached they are to just stay with it,” the beloved naturalized ace told reporters shortly after the escape.
“Never say die. We just wanted to keep fighting. Just the NSD spirit—and that spirit means a lot,” he added.
The Nationals led by as many as 21 points but squandered that lead in the final frame, where the Iranians even managed to wrest control of the game heading into the final minute of the contest at Zhejiang University Gymnasium.
Matin Aghajanpour and Mohammad Vahedi joined hands in a last-ditch effort in the final frame that helped Iran wrest control, 81-80, with 1:33 remaining.
The indefatigable Brownlee then hit a tough floater to give Gilas a slim edge which the nationals clung to until the final buzzer.
June Mar Fajardo finished with 18 points and eight rebounds while Scottie Thompson had 11 and six as this hastily-assembled Gilas squad continued its run in the Asian Games.
The Philippines will take on China next. The hosts are eager to make Gilas pay for a 96-75 loss in the Fiba World Cup last month at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“It’s gonna be a tough, hard-fought game. We’re ready. I’m sure they’ll be ready,” Brownlee said of Team Dragon.
Gilas Pilipinas 84 – Brownlee 36, Fajardo 18, Thompson 11, Oftana 7, Perez 6, Kouame 4, Newsome 2, Alas 0, Tolentino 0, Aguilar 0.Iran 83 – Vahedi 24, Rezaeifar 14, Mirzaeitalarposhti 12, Aghajanpour 11, Girgoorian 8, Mashayekhi 6, Kazemi 6, Pazirofteh 2, Shahrian Nasl 0, Gholizadeh Tousarani 0, Torabi 0.