CHANGSHA, China — Gilas Pilipinas closed in on the quarterfinals of the 2015 Fiba Asia Championship after dealing Iran its first loss, 87-73, on Monday at the Changsha Social Work College Gymnasium.
The Gilas new boys provided the spark and the holdovers maintained stability to give the Philippines its first win over an Iranian national squad since the Gilas program was launched. The Philippines, then featuring Marcus Douthit, won the 2012 Jones Cup over a Tehran team led by Mohammad Samad Nikkhah Bahrami.
Recent callups Calvin Abueva and Terrence Romeo came up with their biggest games of the tournament so far, leading a second-half Gilas assault to cut titleholder Iran down to size.
Jayson Castro led all scorers 26 huge points on 11 of 18 shooting, while Andray Blatche continued his fine play less than 24 hours after sustaining an ankle injury and registered 18 points and seven rebounds.
Romero scored 15 and Abueva scored 13 as Gilas matched Iran’s seven points in Group E, both teams with 3-1 win-loss records. Wins from teams that advanced from the first round are carried over to the second.
Romeo was 4 of 11 but made three of five shots from beyond the arc, including back-to-back treys that helped Gilas Pilipinas regain control, 58-56.
Hamed Haddadi was limited to 10 points as Mohammadsamad Nik Khahbahrami led Iran with 21 points.
The Philippines in 2007 won over an Iran side featuring Haddadi, with James Yap and Jimmy Alapag leading the way to an 89-79 win in the Jones Cup. The Philippines woud up third in the tournament behind Jordan and Lebanon, while Iran fell short of a podium spot.
Gilas Pilipinas 87 – Castro 26, Blatche 18, Romeo 15, Abueva 13, Norwood 5, De Ocampo 5, Hontiveros 3, Taulava 2, Intal 0, Pingris 0, Ganuelas 0, Thoss 0.
Iran 73 – Nik Khahbahrami 21, Mashayekhi 11, Kamrani 11, Haddadi 10, Jamshidijafarabadi 7, Davari 9, Hassanzadeh Saberia 2, Davarpanahfard Karekani 2, Yakhchalidehkordi 0, Afagh 0, Sahakian 0.