By: Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Winless and hoping to upset the powerhouse rival Iran team, Gilas Pilipinas fell short again as they got stomped, 95-75, in their classification round game.
The PH squad torched the net early on as they rained a barrage of shots from deep, keeping themselves within striking distance against a much bigger Iran team in the first frame.
As the second quarter started, the Iranian team quickly switched up their defense, contesting out on three point shots and encouraged drives instead. The scheme worked, limiting Gilas to only 10 points in the second quarter to lead by 14 at half time, 48-34.
With hopes to match Iran’s front line, coach Yeng Guiao’s tactic of fielding his twin tower lineup of June Mar Fajardo and Andray Blatche manning the shaded area quickly backfired as the two big men couldn’t keep up with the Iranians’ breaks.
Iran never looked back as they started to dominate the ball game with their hot shooting and superb defense.
With 5 minutes left in the final canto, Blatche notched his second technical foul and was tossed out of the ball game, chalking up 12 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals.
The PH squad will go back to the drawing board after finishing the tourney worse than their 2014 World Cup performance.
Iran, on the other hand, clinched its 2020 Tokyo Olympics berth after inched past China as the best team in Asia.