IRAN and Hamed Haddadi once again proved too big a hurdle to overcome for Gilas Pilipinas, which dropped a 55-76 defeat on Friday night to bow out of contention in the Fiba Asia Cup in Wuhan, China.
Except for a brief stretch when Gilas pulled within two points in the first quarter, the Iranians kept the game under control behind Haddadi's intimidating presence inside, timely three-point shots, and fastbreak plays that caught the Filipinos' defense napping every now and then.
Gilas just couldn't keep up with naturalized player Marcus Douthit picking up two early fouls early and never really getting untracked the whole game, and new recruit Paul Lee picking the worst time to have a bad game after leading the team in scoring in its first four games.
Iran's win mirrored its victory over Gilas in the finals of the Fiba Asia championships in Manila last year and sent Haddadi and Co. to the finals of this tournament against the winner over the other semifinal pitting host China and rival Chinese Taipei.
On the other hand, Gilas was relegated to the consolation battle for third place where it will look to improve on its fourth-place finish in the last two editions of this showpiece.
Mohammad Jamshidi and Benham Yakhchalidehko spearheaded the onslaught for Iran scoring 19 and 18 points, respectively, as both provided the outside shooting that allowed the Iranians to establish their biggest lead at 55-35 late in the third canto.
Haddadi, a three-time Asian championship MVP, finished the game with an all-around game of 11 points, five rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals as he time and again imposed his will against the foul-troubled Douthit and June Mar Fajardo.
Douthit, who sat out almost the entire first half after picking up two quick fouls, was held down to just six points on a woeful 2-of-13 field goal shooting.
Lee was held to a tournament-low four points on 2-of-9 shooting.
LA Tenorio, Gary David and Ranidel de Ocampo all scored 11 points for the Filipinos.
Iran 76 - Jamshidi 19, Yakhchalidehkordi, 18, Hadadi 11, Mashayekhi 10, Sahakian 7, Zangeneh 5, Lalehzadeh 3, Arghavan 2, Kazemi Naneini 1, Kardoust 0.
Philippines 55 – David 11, Tenorio 11, de Ocampo 11, Douthit 6, Washington 5, Aguilar 4, Dalistan (Lee) 4, Dillinger 3, Alas 0, Belga 0, Fajardo 0, Lanete 0.