TOURNAMENT MVP Hamed Hadadi lauded the Philippine team for its effort, saying the host team rightfully deserved its place in the Fiba-Asia championships final as well as a stint in the world championships.
The NBA veteran said the Iranians had a hard time beating Gilas Pilipinas in the battle for first place despite the margin ballooning in the end, 85-71, on Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
“We played the best team in Philippines,” said Hadadi, noting that they had to concentrate on the defensive end knowing how dangerous Gilas Pilipinas was from the outside and the transition.
The winning margin was not the closest for Iran in the tournament, with Korea managing to finish just 11 points down in the preliminaries, but Hadadi noted that there were parts of the game where Filipinos managed to make it very difficult for the Iranians.
“They are great in fastbreaks and three-point shots. Sometimes, you can’t stop them in fastbreaks,” he said.
Hadadi, who last year played for the Phoenix Suns, also said Gilas Pilipinas big man Marcus Douthit would have made a big difference in the final.
The naturalized Filipino missed most of the semifinal against Korea and sat out the championship match due to a right calf muscle injury, allowing Hadadi to dominate inside for a team-high 29 markers.
“They missed Marcus. He played very good defense and offense,” he said.
Led by Hadadi, the Iranians bounced back from a lackluster first half to take control beginning in the fourth quarter.
“We played not so good in the first half but in the second half, we played better and better and we won the championship,” said Hadadi, noting that the Philippines got a big lift from the Filipino crowd.
“It’s a great team. They have a team with 20,000 people cheering and supporting them in this game,” said Hadadi.