Thursday, September 25, 2014

Asian Games: Iran rallies past Gilas Pilipinas, tops Group E

Gilas Pilipinas still could not solve the puzzle that is Iran as they lost anew to the reigning FIBA Asia Champions, 68-63, in their second assignment at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.

The Philippines had a seven-point lead in the final period but Iran inched closer as Marcus Douthit sat in the bench due to foul trouble. Gilas managed to grab a 63-61 lead with over two minutes left in the game but Iran's do-it-all forward Samad Nikkha Bahrami closed out the game strong.

Down 66-63, the Filipinos still had one last shot to send the game into overtime but all they got was a three-point attempt from Douthit. Free throws from Hamed Haddadi settled the final score.

With the loss, Gilas joins Kazakhstan, South Korea, and winner between Qatar and Japan in the quarterfinal group stage with the top two teams heading into the Asian Games semifinals.

Bahrami led Iran with 21 points while Haddadi chipped in 20 points and 15 rebounds.

Paul Lee spearheaded the fight for Gilas with 11 points but he missed two crucial jumpers late in the game. Douthit had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds while Norwood added nine markers.

Iran started the game with a 5-0 run off long shots from Samad Nikkah Bahrami and Mahdi Kamrani. Gilas responded with a 4-0 run care of Marcus Douthit and Gabe Norwood.

Iran then went off with a 12-2 run for a 17-6 lead to force Gilas head coach Chot Reyes to call a timeout at the 4:43 mark of the first. 

Douthit and Norwood continued to pour in the points for the Philippines but getting close to Iran proved to be difficult as the reigning FIBA Champions finished the first 10 minutes holding a 29-17 lead.

Gilas opened the second quarter with back-to-back triples from Paul Lee and Jared Dillinger to slowly get back in the game.

Kamrani was called for a technical foul at the 5:07 mark for vehemently complaining an out-of-bounds call. LA Tenorio converted the two free throws and Jeff Chan nailed a triple to cut Iran’s lead down to just three points at 31-28.

Gilas got within one at 33-32 but Bahrami nailed a triple to give Iran a four-point lead. June Mar Fajardo scored to cut the deficit down to two at 36-34 at the half.

After allowing 29 points in the first quarter, the defense of Gilas held strong in the second quarter as they limited Iran to only seven points.

Lee quickly helped Gilas grab the lead with a triple to start the third quarter. He added another fast break layup on the next play for a 39-36 advantage.

The Iranians knotted the game at 41-all with six minutes left as Gilas fell into early penalty. Iran reclaimed the lead with two Kamrani free throws off an unsportsmanlike foul from Marc Pingris but Tenorio swung the tide back to the Philippines' favor, 47-43, with back-to-back triples. 

After a free throw from Iran, Gary David and Douthit scored two straight baskets to bring their lead up to seven 51-44. Iran replied with a 6-0 run but David ended the third with a jumper for a 53-50 tally in the Philippines favor.

Gilas sped the game up in the fourth quarter as they got points from Pingris and Lee off secondary breaks for a 59-53 lead.

Iran inched closer after Fajardo tipped in the ball into the wrong basket. The PBA MVP was then called for an unsportsmanlike foul leading to a free throw and a layup from Kamrani.

The heady Iran point guard retook the lead, 61-60, for Iran with a triple but Lee quickly knotted the game at 61-all with a free throw.

Two free throws from Norwood gave Gilas a 63-61 lead with 2:07 left in the game but Bahrami leveled the score in the very next play with an inside two.

Iran’s leading scorer gave them a 64-63 lead with a split from the line. Lee missed a long triple over the outstretched arms of Haddadi in the next play and Bahrami padded their lead to three at 66-63 with 22.3 seconds remaining after two free throws.

The scores:

Iran 68: Bahrami 21, Haddadi 20, Kamrani 12, Arghavan 6, Yakhchalidehkordi 3, Jamshidi 3, Afagh 2, Mashayekhi 1, Sahakian 0, Zangeneh 0.

Gilas 63: Lee 11, Tenorio 10, Douthit 10, Norwood 9, De Ocampo 6, Pingris 5, David 4, Chan 3, Dillinger 3, Fajardo 2, Alapag 0, Aguilar 0.

Quarters: 29-17, 36-34, 50-53, 68-63.

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