THE Philippine youth team bowed to Asian powerhouse Iran, 72-93, in the final game of the preliminaries Sunday in the Fiba-Asia U18 Championships in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia.
The Energen-Pilipinas squad finished its Group D campaign in second place with a 2-1 win-loss record behind undefeated 2008 titlist Iran (3-0) but still advanced to the second round of the tournament.
J-Jay Alejandro led the Filipino youth cagers with 12 points, Hubert Cani had 11 and Kyle Suarez added 10.
Head coach Olsen Racela said in a statement through text message that the Energen team gave up a lot of rebounds to the much-taller Iranians.
“Against a team like Iran, we can’t give up 24 offensive rebounds and turn the ball over 26 times,” Racela said. “It was a learning experience for the boys and for the coaches as well. Iran is a very strong and tall team and one of the top three teams in Asia.
Racela later wrote in his Twitter account @thebigOls that he is proud of his players for fighting toe-to-toe with Iran.
“Tough loss but we showed we can compete agnst the best teams in Asia. Energen Pilipinas gained a lot of respect from coaches here #FibaU18,” Racela wrote.
The Filipino cagers advance along with Iran and Kazakhstan in Group F, Group C topnotcher Chinese Taipei and two more teams still being determined as of posting time.
The Iranians took an early 22-17 lead and extended it to 42-33 at halftime.
Iran, however, started the third period with a 10-2 blast including a triple by Vahld Dalirzahan to take a double-digit advantage over the Philippines.
Dalirhazan led the Iranians with 21 points followed by Hossein Rahmati with 20.
Energen-Pilipinas defeated Saudi Arabia, 95-52, and Kazakhstan, 83-69, in its first two games.
IRAN (93)—Dalirzahan 21, Rahmati 20, Mashayeki 16, Foroutan Nik 14, Yakhchalidehkordi 10, Beigi Arbatsofla 5, Bagheri Koudakani 3, Yazdanpanah Gabrani 2, Yousof Vand 2, Najafikharaji 0, Mozafari Vanani 0, Dehgani 0.
PHILIPPPINES (72)—Alejandro 12, Cani 11, Suarez 10, Pingoy 9, Porter 8, Nambatac 5, Javelosa 4, Babilonia 4, Bonleon 4, Lao 3, Rivero 2, Olayon 0.
Quarterscores: 22-17; 42-33; 65-48; 93-72.