MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippine national team bowed to the taller Iranians, 76-55, in their semifinal clash at the FIBA Asia Cup.
Iran, last year's FIBA Asia Champions, repeated as conquerors of Gilas Pilipinas by shutting down its scorers, particularly Paul Lee, who was limited to 4 points from his average of 14.8.
The Iranians, paced by Mohammad Jamshidi's 19 points, also outrebounded the Philippines, 43-34.
Fresh from a 75-60 win over Jordan, the Hamed Haddadi-powered Iran posted a 20-13 lead in the first quarter.
Gilas fired back with a mini-run capped by a Jay Washington bucket which cut the deficit to 17-20. Iran, however, maintained its distance by closing the half with a 39-28 advantage.
But, in the third quarter, Iran's Behnam Yakhchali started connecting from 3-point range while his team mates took care of the inside offense to widen the gap to 20 points, 55-35.
Incursions mounted by Jared Dillinger, Marcus Douthit and Japeth Aguilar cut the deficit to 53-66, with over 5 minutes to go, but this was the closest they could get, after which the Iranians surged ahead with a 21-point advantage.
Gary David, LA Tenorio and Ranidel De Ocampo each had 11 points for the Philippines.
Despite the loss, Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes kept a positive outlook.
Reyes said he wanted to see how the current team, minus their mainstays from the Asia Championship, would react against a stronger squad like Iran.
“We are here without four key players who will be with us later (for the FIBA Worlds),” the coach said in the FIBA Asia website, referring to Jayson Castro, Larry Fonacier, Jim Alapag and Jeff Chan.
The four are Gilas’ most potent shooters from the outside, whom they would need against Iran.
“Our outside shooting therefore is certainly not what it can be,” Reyes said.
Iran advanced to the finals of the FIBA Asia Cup and will meet the winner between semifinalists China and Chinese Taipei.
Last year, Gilas faced off with the Iranians in the finals of the FIBA Asia Championship.
The Filipinos, who played without the injured Douthit, lost, 85-71, ending up with the silver medal.
Gilas joined the tournament to kick off its tune-up for the FIBA World, which will take place in Spain next month.