Gilas player Jimmy Alapag competes with Mashayekhi Sajjad (L) of Iran during their men's basketball preliminary round group game at the Incheon International Velodrome during the 17th Asian Games in South Korea. Photo by Bay Ismoyo, Agence France-Presse
MANILA, Philippines – Chot Reyes could only rue the late game errors that cost Gilas Pilipinas a chance to notch an upset victory over powerhouse Iran during their Group E encounter in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
Already leading by seven points in the last six minutes, Gilas was outplayed in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. JuneMar Fajardo repeatedly ran into the stonewall defense of Hamed Haddadi, while Nikkhah Barami broke down Marc Pingris on the other end of the floor.
"I'm upset because we lost a game we should've won," Reyes said, as quoted by the PBA website. "We lost a game on our own mistakes."
"We gotta be better than that. We have to be smarter than that," he stressed.
Iran got off to a hot start but a fantastic second quarter stand by Gilas – which saw them hold Iran to only seven points – helped them enter the halftime break down only 34-36.
The Philippines took the lead in the third period, with LA Tenorio nailing back-to-back three pointers to give Gilas a 51-44 lead that sent the Filipinos in the arena into wild celebration.
Gilas folded up in crunch time, however, failing to score a basket in the final six minutes. Only free throws by Paul Lee and Gabe Norwood allowed them to remain within striking distance.
Down three points, it was naturalized big man Marcus Douthit who took a potential game-tying shot from beyond the arc that clanged off the front of the rim.
"Douthit shouldn't have shot that," Reyes acknowledged. "But that was the shot that Iran was willing to give up."
Both Iran and the Philippines were already through the quarter-finals even before the game started, as both teams already beat India to take the top two spots in their three-team group.
The atmosphere in the arena and the physicality of the game belied its no-bearing nature, however, as Gilas pushed Iran to the brink in what was a rematch of their Finals showdown in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship.