SMART Gilas Pilipinas 2.0’s quest for the Fiba Asia Cup championship came to an end at the hands of Iran, which threw the full might of its fiery outside shooting and mean inside game on the Filipinos in an emphatic 77-60 victory on Friday in Tokyo.
The two-time Asian champions broke open a close game behind a barrage of three-pointers in the second half as they avenged a defeat to the Filipinos in the last Jones Cup in Taipei which Iran star Samad Bahrami took so badly he vowed to settle score in Tokyo.
Bahrami did, and in the process exposed how dominant the Iranians can be even without NBA player Hamed Haddadi – and how far Smart Gilas Pilipinas still is in its quest to bring the country back to the upper echelons of the sport in Asia.
Iran now advances to the finals of this event that guarantees the top three placers outright berths in next year’s Asian Championships in Lebanon. It faces the winner of the other semifinal match pitting Japan against Qatar.
The Philippines, on the other hand, is left to face the loser of the Japan-Qatar match in a battle for third place and the last automatic berth to next year’s tournament.
A victory would also enable Gilas to surpass the fourth-place finish of their predecessors in this tournament two years ago under Serbian coach Rajko Toroman.
Jared Dillinger and LA Tenorio each had 13 points to pace the Nationals, who held their own against the Iranians for much of the first half before an opening eight-point salvo by the enemy suddenly put them on the back foot.
Things simply turned from bad to worse after that as the Filipinos continued to misfire from three-point distance while foul trouble hounded big men Marcus Douthit, Sonny Thoss and Ranidel de Ocampo.
Iran (77) - Afagh 14, Jamshidi 13, Kardoust 13, Bahrami 12, Sahakian 12, Davoudichegani 6, Foroutan 1, Aslani 0, Mashayekhi 0, Yahkchali 0, Sedihgi 0.
Philippines (60) - Tenorio 13, Dillinger 13, Douthit 8, Norwood 7, Chan 5, Fonacier 5, De Ocampo 4, Villanueva 3, David 2, Thoss 0, Ganuelas 0, Reyes 0.
Quarterscores: 16-17; 30-30; 53-47; 77-60