Philippines triumph over mighty Iran

 28 Sep 2015 - 16:59

Philippines triumph over mighty Iran
CHANGSHA-HUNAN (2015 FIBA Asia Championship) - Riding on the production of Jayson Castro and Andray Blatche, the Philippines waylaid erstwhile unbeaten Iran, 87-73, in Group E action from the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship.

This is the first time in recent memory that the Philippines have been able to beat Iran in a FIBA Asia Championship game, and they did it in dazzling fashion. Behind the sublime play of Castro and Blatche, the Filipinos erased Iran’s myth of invincibility and pulled the defending champs back to earth. Blatche outplayed Hamed Haddadi in this one, putting up 18 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 blocks. A couple of players also gave Gilas Pilipinas a big lift of the bench as Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva combined to score 28 points.

Iran had a better start to the contest, leading after one quarter and at the halftime break, but they unraveled amidst a searing second half surge by the Philippines, who turned the tables on their more fancied foes.

Samad Nikkhah Bahrami was the best Iranian player on the floor, scoring 21 points, while Mahdi Kamrani and Sajjad Mashayekhi each tallied 11. Haddadi finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds, but he fouled out in the final frame.

Turning Point: With 8:32 left in the third quarter, Iran held a 10-point lead thanks to a three-pointer by Bahrami, but that was also the point the Filipinos started to rally. Coach Tab Baldwin’s wards outscored Iran, 28-13, for the remainder of the period, taking the lead on a Romeo trey, 58-57, before taking a slim 5-point lead into the fourth quarter, 65-60. Needless to say, the Philippines never looked back after that.

Stats Don't Lie: In a game that was close and that went back-and-forth, turnovers spelled the difference. Buoyed by 12 steals, the Filipinos were able to force 16 Iranian turnovers and convert these into 19 points. In contrast, Iran had only 5 steals and forced 12 Filipino errors.