After an ecstatic win over Korea on Saturday, the undermanned Gilas Pilipinas still tried to battle Iran for gold in the most prestigious league in Asia, the FIBA Asia Championship but still came up short, 85-71, against the Iranians.
However, Iran did not easily fend off the Philippines as many expected as the Filipinos engaged Iran in a dog fight for three quarters.
Although NBA veteran Hamed Haddadi made life miserable for the shorter Filipinos, Gilas kept up with Iran through sharp three-point shooting and their fast break game to close the half at 35-34 with Iran leading.
In the ensuing quarters, the host team felt the loss of big man Marcus Douthit as Haddadi wreck havoc inside by scoring 29 markers. Haddadi then claimed the Most Valuable Player award.
For Gilas, there’s still something to celebrate for as the nationals claim one of three tickets in the FIBA World Champions ships in Spain next year.
The historic feat is the Philippines’ first after decades long of basketball frustration.
Aside from Iran and the Philippines, Korea also punched in the last ticket for the FIBA championships after downing Chinese-Taipei, 75-57, good for third place.