THE campaign of the Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team mercifully ended much in the same way it started — with a defeat — this time getting walloped by Asian powerhouse Iran, 75-95, in the classification round of the FIBA World Cup 2019 Sunday night, September 8, 2019, at the Beijing Wukesong Sport Center.
The loss meant that the Filipinos would go back home without a single win to show, at 0-5. The Philippine side ended their campaign with a minus-147, finishing dead last in the 32-nation tournament.
Iran’s win, coupled with China’s 73-86 loss to Nigeria, meant that they are the best Asian team in this competition, thereby clinching an outright slot to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Gilas fought hard in the first canto, even holding a 19-17 before eventually trailing by six, 24-30, after the first. Iran finally broke through in the second frame as they built a 48-34 halftime bulge and led by as much as 29 points in the game before cruising to the easy win.
Iran’s 34-year-old 7-foor-2 behemoth Hamed Haddadi had 19 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, while Nik Khahbahrami added 17 markers. Mohammad Jamshidijafarabadi produced 16 points, five rebounds and five assists.
The Gilas was led by the 15 points of PBA rookie Robert Bolick while naturalized player, Andray Blatche, had 12 points. Cebuano big man June Mar Fajardo added 10 points, four rebounds, a steal and a block. (Jonas Panerio)