INCHEON, South Korea — India coach Scott Flemming believes Gilas Pilipinas can beat Iran in the Asian Games only if it can consistently hit its outside shots on Thursday at the Hwaseong Sports Complex.
The American coach said the Philippine team has the tools to beat the reigning Asian championships, based on the Filipinos' performance in the Fiba World Cup last month where they beat Senegal and more than held their own against some of the world's top-ranked teams.
“On a given night, they are good enough to beat anybody,” said Flemming during the postgame conference on Tuesday after Gilas held off his hot-shooting Indian side, 85-76, on Tuesday.
“They held their own in the World Cup. I watched some of those games and they weren’t embarrassed at all even in the games that they lost. They were pretty close.
"If they can play those teams like that, they can certainly beat Iran.”
The Philippines is eyeing a sweep of Group E in the preliminary round with a win against fellow Fiba World Cup qualifier Iran, who like the Filipinos won one game in Spain.
Flemming, however, warned that beating the highly-touted Iranians won't be easy.
“Iran is good. They have their (Gilas') number a pretty number of times. But they can definitely beat them. They’ve got to hit their outside shots. They’ve got shooters,” Flemming said.
Jeff Chan, Gary David, and LA Tenorio clicked from the outside against India, although head coach Chot Reyes admitted later that Gilas was outplayed by the Indians for most of the way.
But Flemming stressed that Gilas was tough to play - mainly because of its quickness and outside shooting, not to mention its huge crowd support.
“They did a lot of things very well. They have a lot of quickness and a lot of shooters. They are a tough match-up because they bring a lot of shooters off the bench,” said Flemming.
“Plus they have a sixth man out there. It felt like an away game,” said Flemming of Filipino fans who supported Gilas from the stands in Hwaseong, which is about an hour away by train from Incheon.
Still, Fleming said Gilas' shooters can't afford to go cold against the tall Iranians.
“They can’t afford to have a cold night against Iran and try to win,” said Flemming.