Gilas escapes Iran, enters Asian Games semis for first time since 2002

Philippine Tribune
Philippine Tribune

Gilas Pilipinas suffered a fourth quarter collapse but ultimately emerged victorious as it escaped Iran, 84-83, to return to the semifinals of the Asian Games for the first time since 2002 on Tuesday in Hangzhou, China.

The nationals leaned on the hot hands of Justin Brownlee, who erupted for 36 points, 16 of which he dropped in the first quarter, to go with eight rebounds and four assists.

With the win, Gilas arranged a duel with host China in the semifinals. The last time the two teams faced off was during the 2023 FIBA World Cup in Manila, with the Filipinos eking out a 96-75 win.

Gilas led by as much as 21 points when June Mar Fajardo completed a hook shot early in the third period before the Filipinos ended the frame ahead by 17, 71-54.

The Iranians, though, staged a massive comeback in the fourth period with Matin Aghjanpour burying back-to-back triples followed by a Meisam Mirzaeitalarposhti bucket that cut their deficit to a single digit, 67-73.

Mohammadsina Vahedi made some timely baskets before his two free throws gave Iran the lead, 81-80. Fajardo then completed a putback basket after a missed triple from Calvin Oftana.

Navid Rezaeifar drilled a basket that sent Iran to another 83-82 cushion, but Brownlee went for a one-handed jumper that proved crucial as Iran went wide in its next attempt.

Fajardo had a big game as well as he poured in 18 markers, eight boards, and four dimes while Scottie Thompson chipped in 11 points and six rebounds.

En route to the quarters, Gilas defeated Qatar in the quarterfinals qualifiers. In the group stage, the national team took down Bahrain and Thailand before falling to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and his Jordan squad

—Bea Micaller/JKC, GMA Integrated News

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