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Gilas falls prey to Iran in World Cup qualifiers
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Gilas falls prey to Iran in World Cup qualifiers

MANILA, Philippines, September 14 ------ Not even behemoth Hamed Haddadi's heavily-reduced playing time could help Gilas Pilipinas get over the hump against Iran. The retooled Filipino squad ran out of steam in the endgame as the Iranians pulled off an 81-73 win at the Azady Gym in Tehran to start the fourth window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Thursday, September 13. Christian Standhardinger erupted for 30 points and 12 rebounds but his double-double numbers still weren't enough to fuel the Filipinos' bid to become the first team to beat the Iranians at their own turf in the Qualifiers.

"We just couldn't make our shots. We normally make open shots. The open threes did not fall for us. Haddadi was not playing for most of the game, it could have been our chance," Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao said. It was a nip-and-tuck battle through the first three quarters until Iran took an 11-point lead with less than three minutes left in the payoff period off four straight points from Nikkah Bahrami, 77-66. The Filipinos tried to mount a last-ditch comeback after trimming its deficit to 8 points but a Meisam Mirza jumper and two Bahrami freebies secured the win for the Iranians with a little over a minute remaining, 81-69. Sidelined for most of the game due to a groin injury, Haddadi played the last 56 seconds as Iran rolled on to its 6th straight win for a 6-1 record to grab the lead in Group F while Team Pilipinas slid to 4-3.

Bahrami paced Iran with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists, Sajjad Mashayekhi chalked up 19 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals while Arsalan Kazemi had 11 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Alex Cabagnot, who played his first official Team Pilipinas game, backstopped Standhardinger with 9 points and 5 assists as no other Filipino player breached double figures. Beau Belga finished with 7 points, Paul Lee chipped in 6 points while the debuting Scottie Thompson added 5 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in the losing effort. bEven without the 7-foot-2 Haddadi logging in his usual minutes, Iran had a significantly better shooting percentage of 49% to the Philippines' 39% clip and had 9 more rebounds and 4 more steals. Gilas returns home to face Qatar on Monday, September 17, at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores
Iran 81 - Bahrami 21, Mashayekhi 19, Kazemi 11, Arghavan 8, Yakhchali 7, Jamshidi 6, Mirza 5, Hassanzadeh 4, Haddadi 0, Davoudichegani 0, Mozafarivanani 0.
Philippines 73 - Standhardinger 30, Cabagnot 9, Belga 7, Lee 6, Almazan 5, Thompson 5, Lassiter 4, Taulava 3, Sangalang 2, Norwood 2, Erram 0, Maliksi 0.
Quarters: 21-22, 40-38, 63-59, 81-73.

Source: rappler.com/sports