MANILA — Iran managed to lift itself past Gilas Pilipinas to earn the win, 68-63, Thursday afternoon at Hwaseong Sports Complex gymnasium.
Despite the loss of the nationals, they are still in the quarterfinal round.
“We will beat them when we need to,” said Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes.
While the highly-physical match is technically a no-bearing game, Iran showed its prowess led by Samad Bahrami and Mahdi Kamrani to give their team a good run in the final 7:27 of the game. Gilas Pilipinas was not able to retort back.
Gilas led by 60-53 when Kamrani chipped in six points for his team. Bahrami added a basket from fouls to close the game with a 15-3 run.
“[Kamrani] was a little bit injured but we know he has quality,” said Iran coach Mehmed Becirovic. “In [crucial] moments, he took responsibility and changed the game.”
Kamrani only had six points in the last canto, but he was able to knock down a three-pointer to give Iran a precarious one-point lead, 61-60. The Philippines answered with a two-point lead, but was easily gained again by Iran through Bahrami.
Gilas still had a chance to tie the game, but Iran showed good defense against Marcus Douthit.
“It was the only shot we had for a reason—it was the only shot Iran would give us,” said Reyes. “He shouldn’t have shot that. He should’ve waited to construct a better attempt. We weren’t sufficiently trained to look for a good shot in that situation.”
The loss has little impact on the bids of both teams for the gold medals given that Iran and Gilas will now advance to the semifinal rounds.
“I’m upset because we lost a game we should have won,” Reyes said. “If we had taken care of business, we would’ve won this game. What makes it more embarrassing is that the fans came here from all over Korea to watch us play. They deserved a win.”
For a minute, it looked like the nationals will win.
LA Tenorio gave the country its first lead in the first half, 44-43. Gary David also fought back in 2:50 of the third quarter to give their team a 51-44 advantage.
Marc Pingis also assisted Gilas, 60-53, before Iran took off.
“Every game I play, I try to play the highest level,” said Bahrami. “After the game, the only thing that matters is winning.”