TEAM Pilipinas simply couldn't make enough shots to bring down an Iran side that played all but 58 seconds without giant Hamed Haddadi, dropping an 81-73 loss in their Fiba World Cup Asian qualifier on Thursday night.
Veteran Mohammadsahmad Nikkhahbahrami scored 21 points, including back-to-back baskets that opened an 11-point lead late in the fourth quarter for the home team in a highly physical game that left a couple of Filipinos bloodied.
Fil-German Christian Standhardinger kept Team Pilipinas afloat with 30 points and 12 rebounds, but the Filipinos faded in the fourter after making just five of 28 shots from beyond the three-point arc.
By the time Haddadi was fielded in with less than a minute left in the game, Iran had its sixth win in eight games in the qualifiers for the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China all but wrapped up.
Standhardinger was the only player to hit double figures for the visiting team. Alex Cabagnot had nine points, Beau Belga added seven points while shrugging off a bloodied nose while Marcio Lassiter added four while enduring a boxer's cut above one eye.
Scottie Thompson also played quality minutes in his Team Pilipinas debut, finishing with five points, three rebounds, and three assists in 10 minutes of play.
However, the Filipinos couldn't make open shots to fall, making just 25 of their 65 shots overall as they fell to 4-3 (win-loss) i Group F. They fly home to host Qatar in a closed-door game on Monday.
In contrast, Iran made 32 of 65 shots. Six unanswered points - four of them by the veteran Bahrami - led to the game's first double-digit lead, 77-66 , with 2:48 left.
Iran 81 – Nikkhahbahrami 21, Mashayekhi 19, Kazemi 11, Arghavan 8, Yakhchalidehkordi 7, Jamshidijafarabadi 6, Mirzaeitalarposthi 5, Saberi 4, Haddadi 0, Davoudichegani 0, Mozafarivanani 0.
Philippines 73 – Standhardinger 30, Cabagnot 9, Belga 7, Lee 6, Thompson 5, Almazan 5, Lassiter 4, Taulava 3, Sangalang 2, Norwood 2, Erram 0, Maliksi 0.
Quarters: 21-22; 40-38; 63-59; 81-73.