Gilas Pilipinas tried their best but fell short as Asian powerhouse team Iran showed supremacy in pummeling the Philippine national team, 74-65 in the 37th William Jones Cup Thursday at the Xinzhuang Gymnasium in New Taipei City, Taiwan.
Veteran Hamed Haddadi was just too much for the Filipinos as he led Iran with 22 points, 15 rebounds, two assists and three blocks.
Mohammad Jamshidi added nine points while starting in the absence of top gunner Samad Bahrami, who was not part of the Iranian team in this event because of a minor injury.
Gilas veteran and ageless Asi Taulava didn’t backed down without a fight by registering 12 points and eight rebounds in leading the Filipinos, but the former NBA veteran Haddadi was just too hard to contain.
Jayson Castro added 10 points while Jc Intal surprisingly came off the bench strong with also the same output.
The loss dropped Gilas Pilipinas to 3-2 while the mighty Iranians improved to 5-1. The setback also deemed the chance of Gilas of a Jones Cup title but will hope that the Iran will loss some of its games while Gilas prevails in all.
Both teams went toe-to-toe early with both teams playing good defense.
A skirmish happened in the first quarter with Haddadi and Tautuaa almost figured in the fight. Haddadi was confronting Ranidel de Ocampo after the former was hit by an elbow when Tautuaa suddenly stepped in and confronted the Iranian behemoth.
Iran played the second half strong and led by as much as seven, 31-24 but Gilas retaliates, punctuated by a Castro basket as Iran led by three, 34-31 at the half.
In the third, Iran threatened to pull away, but Taulava stood his ground against Haddadi. Haddadi, then, showed his might and overpowered the smaller Filipinos in the shaded lane.
However, Abueva, who has seen limited minutes due to foul trouble, used his energy once again and scored six straight points bridging the third and fourth quarters to ignite a 10-2 run as the Filipinos came within three, 56-53, at the start of the final frame.
Gilas got some scare as leading scorer Terrence Romeo suffered an ankle injury but returned in the final quarter.
But Iran showed how strong they are as Hamed Afagh pushed the lead to nine points, 65-56, with four minutes left.
Gilas tried to retaliate and got some boost from Intal, who buried a triple as they trimmed the deficit to four, 65-61.
But Iran once again waxed hot behind a triple by Mohammad Jamshidi and a dunk by Haddadi that gave Iran a 70-61 lead and the Filipinos never recovered.
“We’re still some ways to go as far as being a team is concerned. I thought we lost our discipline out there,” said Gilas coach Tab Baldwin after a game billed by the Taiwanese media as ‘the championship’ itself.
The mighty Iranians outrebounded the smaller Filipinos, 40-28, while making seven of 23 shots from three-point range.
Gilas will next face New Zealand on Friday.
Iran 74 – Haddadi 22, Afagh 13, Farid 9, Jamshidi 9, Kamrani 7, Mohammad 5, Davarpan 4, Davari 2, Kardoust 2
Gilas – Taulava 12, Intal 10, Castro 10, Romeo 8, Tautuaa 7, Abueva 6, Pingris 4, Hontiveros 3, Norwood 2, Ganuelas Rosser 2, Thoss 1, De Ocampo 0
Quartescores: 17-14; 34-31; 54-47; 74-65