TAIPEI - Iran proved too strong, too efficient for a Gilas Pilipinas 3.0 team that is still in its growing-up period, dealing the Philippines a workmanlike 74-65 defeat on Thursday afternoon in the 37th Jones Cup basketball tournament.
NBA veteran Hamed Haddadi once again threw his weight around against the smaller Filipinos, scoring 22 points while anchoring an Iran offense that pounced on the Gilas defense both from inside and out.
The result was a fifth victory in six games for Iran in this nine-nation tournament - and more lessons to deal with for a Gilas side that still doesn't have the cohesion and fluidity of the Iranians. At least not yet.
"We're still some ways to go as far as being a team is concerned. I thought we lost our discipline out there," said Gilas coach Tab Baldwin after a game billed by the Taiwanese media as 'the championship' i itself.
Their second loss in five games also all but knocked the Filipinos out of contention in this tournament they won in 2012 and gave more points to ponder for Baldwin ahead of the Fiba Asia Championship in Changsha, China.
Baldwin, at least, can count on Andray Blatche - and possibly Jordan Clarkson - returning to reinforce the team by the time they meet Haddadi and Co. three weeks from now in China.
Without the two, Haddadi added 15 rebounds, two assists and three blocks to his 22 points while Mohammad Jamshidi added nine points while starting in the absence of top gunner Samad Mahrani.
Asi Taulava held the fort for Gilas in Blatche's absence, leading the Philippines with 12 points and eight boards. JC Intal scored 10 points off the bench - the same output as Jayson Castro.
Calvin Abueva scored all his six points bridging the third and fourth quarters and, together with the rejuvenated Intal, led the run that enabled Gilas to say within striking distance of Iran in the endgame.
Intal's second three-pointer of the game pulled Gilas within 61-63 with 3:41 minutes to go, only for the Filipinos' guns to fall silent over the next three minutes as Iran pulled away for the victory.
By the time Marc Pingris ended the Gilas drought with two free throws with 27.11 seconds left, the Iranians had already built an unassailable 72-61 cushion.
Iran outrebounded the Philippines, 40-28, while making seven of 23 shots from three-point range. Gilas only went 5-for-18, with Intal and Castro hitting two and Terrence Romeo making one before twisting his ankle in the second half.
Iran 74 - Haddadi 22, Afagh 13, Farid 9, Jamshidi 9, Kamrani 7, Mohammad 5, Davarpan 4, Davari 2, Kardoust 2
Gilas - Taulava 12, Intal 10, Castro 10, Romeo 8, Tautuaa 7, Abueva 6, Pingris 4, Hontiveros 3, Norwood 2, Ganuelas Rosser 2, Thoss 1, De Ocampo 0
Quartescores: 17-14; 34-31; 54-47; 74-65