The Philippine national men’s basketball team battled with all its might before being defeated by the basketball powerhouse Iran with the score of 85-71, in favor of Iran in the title game of FIBA Asia Championship.
Gilas Pilipinas had to settle for a silver medal, the country’s best finish in the tournament since winning the Asian title in 1985.
With Philippines’ top center Marcus Douthit out, 7-foot-2 Iran behemoth Hamed Haddadi dominated the post with 29 points and 16 rebounds.
Despite missing top scorer and rebounder Marcus Douthit coming into the match, the Philippines stayed within striking distance, falling behind by just a single point, 34-33, at halftime.
Iran opened up a 10-point lead in the third quarter as the Philippines got into early penalty, struggling in the paint with key big man Marc Pingris visibly hobbling with a sprained ankle.
Timely hits from Jeff Chan and Jimmy Alapag made sure Gilas never got too far behind.
Mahdi Kamrani, however, nailed a three-pointer at the third quarter buzzer gave Iran a 62-53 advantage.
Iran then flexed its might, starting the final period on an 8-1 run to push its edge to 16 points.
Gilas cut the deficit to 11, but an unsportmanlike foul called on Gary David for bumping Samad Nikkhah Bahrami allowed Iran to score four straight points for a 78-63 advantage with less than three minutes remaining.
Ranidel De Ocampo responded with a four-point play over Haddadi come within 11, 75-67.
Tempers flared during the physical match, with Haddadi getting into a verbal altercation with coach Chot Reyes in the second quarter and several players involved in physical tussles.
Without the inside presence of Douthit, the Filipinos faltered from the field against the bigger Persians, making just 32 percent of their shots.
The Talk ‘N Text duo of Jayson Castro and Jimmy Alapag led the Philippines with 18 and 13 points apiece.
Bahrama and Kamrani added 19 and 15 each for Iran, which won its third Asian title in the last four stagings.
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