FIBA WC: Iran fourth quarter surge sends Gilas to heartbreaking loss

Gilas Pilipinas vs Iran

Mohammad Jamshidi and Behnam Yakchali joined hands to lead Iran in a big fourth quarter comeback to stun Gilas Pilipinas anew, 78-70 in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Asian Qualifiers fifth window on Monday, December 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Playing without the presence of veteran stars Hamed Haddadi and Samad Nikkhah Bahrami, Jamshidi and Yakchali carried the load for the Iranians.

Jamshidi finished with a game-high 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting, exploding for 16 markers in the fourth period. He also had four rebounds and seven assists.

Yakchali added 21 points, seven boards, and four dimes added as Iran closed the game on a 9-0 run, sending Gilas to another heartbreaking defeat in the process.

“It was a big game for both teams. I think we just came here and showed that Iranian basketball has potential,” Jamshidi said. “That’s what we showed in the court. I think good defense and smart offense (won us the game).”

Iran trailed 60-52 after Beau Belga nailed a triple early in the final frame. However, the West Asian side was quick to recover, tying the game at 60 apiece.

Jamshidi went on to score 12 of Iran’s next 15 points including nine consecutive, with his triple capping a 15-2 run which made it 67-62 for the Iranians.

Later, Jayson Castro hit a three while June Mar Fajardo cleaned a miss under the final 1:04 to push the Philippines ahead momentarily, 70-69.

Then, disaster struck in the final moments as Yackhali hit a long two, before Jamshidi completed a fastbreak lay-up off a Troy Rosario miss, making it 73-70 for Iran with 26.7 remaining.

Back to back turnovers by Scottie Thompson and Rosario further doomed Gilas’ chances, with Yackhali and Jamshidi sealing the win with more foul shots.

Iran outscored Gilas, 28-16 overall in the fourth quarter. Neither team led by more than six to the fourth quarter.

“As I told you, it was a very important game for us. After the loss to Australia, the players came with a decision to play hard, play with a heart… I think they did their job very well,” Iran head coach Mehran Shahintab said.

Prior to the game, Shahintab said in one of their practices that Iran will surprise Gilas, and that was exactly what they did.

“We chose the right offense and our defense got tougher in those points.”

Iran moved to second place in Group F at 7-3 while the Philippines dropped outside of the top three with a 5-5 card, behind Japan’s 6-4 slate.

The Philippines will play both of their sixth window games against Kazakhstan and Qatar on the road in February 2019, hoping to salvage a slot to the World Cup.

“The guys tried their best. I knew and I saw they were giving their best but the crucial points in the game, we made some bad decisions and crucial breaks,” Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao said afterwards.

Gilas committed 15 turnovers, five more than Iran’s total miscues; the visiting team took advantage, converting those errors to 17 turnover points.

Iran also had more free throw attempts at 33 compared to Gilas’ 18, making 12 more at 23-11.

“It’s a game of runs. We had a good run but they had a good run themselves. We were hoping to get back another run but it did not happen,” Guiao added.

“I also told the team, as good as these players are, you know if a team is matured or not. It is going to show in the way you play your game under pressure. I felt that when we were under pressure, our maturity did not show.”

Castro led the national squad with 19 points in his return. Christian Standhardinger chipped in 17 points and eight boards, while Marcio Lassiter added 12 including three outside shots which he all scored in the first quarter.

The scores:

Iran (78) – Jamshidi 26, Yakchali 21, Mirzaei 11, Arghavan 8, Hassanzadeh 7, Mozafari 3, Hosseinzadeh 2, Davoudi 0, Torabi 0, Rezaeifar 0, Sedighi 0.

Philippines (70) – Castro 19, Standhardinger 17, Lassiter 12, Fajardo 8, Wright 4, Rosario 3, Belga 3, Aguilar 2, Santos 2, Tenorio 0, Thompson 0, Norwood 0.

By Levi Verora, Jr.

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