THE cracks were visible almost throughout the game.
Turnovers dominated them.
And practically only one man was left standing to carry the fight: Christian Standhardinger.
That, in a nutshell, was what happened to Gilas Pilipinas when it battled Iran on Thursday in Tehran.
When you have two of the nation’s sharpest shooters from afar literally silenced, sorry, but that’s goodbye.
The white flag of surrender could be raised even with a full quarter left in the match and no one would have questioned it.
Both Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter had a mere 1-of-7 from three-point country. And you expect Gilas to score an upset?
That’s wishful thinking outright in the Fiba World Cup qualifiers.
Hey, we are fighting powerhouse Iran, which is a three-time Fiba Asia Cup champion.
The last time we won that one was in 1973. And Iran wasn’t a legit Asia property yet.
And on Thursday night, we played Iran with its top center, the 7-foot-1 former NBA hotshot Hamed Haddadi, not even fielded in the first 39 minutes of the game.
When he was dispatched with barely 60 seconds left, the game was all but finished—Gilas too far behind to even come close at Iran’s winning tally of 81-73.
Oh, well, how could we fulfill to inflict an upset when Iran’s same team that snagged silver in the just-ended Asiad was up against us?
Our own team that placed fifth in the same Asiad was even revised again, right?
So, wasn’t cohesion curbed even before our brand-new quintet could board their jet for the Iran capital?
Still, despite the loss, it was good to see our soldiers fight their best.
So courageous were they that even if two of them absorbed bloody wounds, they fought on with valor.
Hooray mostly to Beau Belga and Lassiter.
Belga suffered a broken, bloodied nose but he didn’t flinch, insisting to be thrown to the front line.
Blood spurted from Lassiter’s left eyebrow on an errant elbow. But, like Belga, he fought on without fear.
And, yes, here’s to Standhardinger. His double-double (30 points, 12 rebounds) was a performance that typified the Filipino spirit.
Chin up, fellas.