VIDEO: Gilas Pilipinas humiliates Haddadi-less Iran in friendly tune-up match

    MANILA, Philippines - With less than a month before the Olympics Basketball Qualifiers here in Manila, the Gilas Pilipinas is once again gearing up to take on the world’s heavyweights like France, New Zealand and Canada. But before the big event, national cagers have first tested one of Asia’s powerhouses, Iran in a friendly tune-up game. Philippines beat the visitors 81-70 on Wednesday, June 8 at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.

    Gilas Pilipinas humiliates Haddadi-less Iran

    Minus the familiar elite Middle-eastern ballers Hammed Haddadi, Samad Nikah Barahmi and Mehdi Kamrani, team Iran’s line-up still looked packed and tall, with this, they won the opening tip and a quick 2-pointer and one from Asghar Kardoust. But, Jason Castro William was too quick to fire back for the early equalizer from down town.

    After almost a year of hiatus, Gilas looked so rusty in the defensive department as they were outrebounded offensively and defensively. Despite of the poor defense, naturalized player Andray Blatche is in top shape compared to his 2015 tour of duty. With less than 4 minutes in the first period, the NBA veteran has already chipped in 6 points. One of Blatche’s highlights in the first was a behind the back dribble- jumper that left his defender with a broken ankle.

    Another Pinoy pride, NBADL Texas Legends Bobby Ray Parks was sent in with less than 4 minutes left in the opening quarter. Parks immediately showcased his improved skills with a flashing drive to the basket.

    6’9” Jappeth Aguilar silently contributed 10 huge points to give the Philippines a dozen lead. RayRay Parks closed the first 10 minutes of the game with a mid-range jumper with Gilas leading Iran 29-15.

    Two-time PBA MVP, Junmar Fajardo, opened up the second canto of the ball game with a reverse layup coming from Parks.

    Though started slow in the first few minutes of the game, Gilas Pilipinas were so quick to adjust especially on offensive side. Terrence Romeo rang the bell twice from downtown to increase the lead 39-21.

    With Iran’s big three out of this friendly game, another star player, Mohammad Jamshidi moved their digits with a fastbreak layup and a foul to wake up his teammates from a quite long scoring hibernation.

    Things got heated up when Andray Blatche and Iran’s 7-foot Ashgar Kardoust exchanged some words and a bit of shoving on the floor. It didn’t end well for team Iran as Blatche posterized Jamshidi with a rim-shaking slam dunk followed by a sneaky under the basket 2-pointer that prompted the visiting team to call a ceasefire and find a solution on how to trim the 20-point humongous Gilas lead.

    The sudden timeout gave Iran signs of life as they made an impressive 11-0 run courtesy of Oshin Sahakian.

    It was a rough second quarter for Team Pilipinas but the home boys were still able to maintain a double-digit lead, 48-38 heading to the dugout.

    The Iranians carried the scoring momentum towards the second half of the game as they made the first basket. But not for long as Andray Blatche retaliated with 5 consecutive points while Ryan Reyes added a pair of treys of his own to bring back a comfortable 19-point advantage.

    Trying to get 1 of the 14 roster spots, Ryan Reyes was really proving Coach Tab Baldwin that he really belongs on the national team. In the absence of Jeff Chan and Marcio Lassiter, Reyes took over the 3-point shooting chores and continued to bombard Iran offensively from the outside.

    At the end of the penultimate quarter, Gilas was still up 67-50.

    The Iranians had a fine quarter-break as they stretched the floor and trimmed the lead to just 13 with 5’11” Sajjad Mashayeki in command for his team.

    Bobby Ray Parks made the crowd jump-off their seats with a break away tomahawk slam from Junmar Fajardo’s open court pass.

    For the first time in the ball game, Coach Tab Baldwin was threatened by Iran’s scoring run and was forced to call a halt. His gang was just up by 11 markers with more than 6 minutes remaining.
    Jamshidi sensed an urgency to score in the last few minutes of the ball game so he muscled his way through to the basket with the aid of Kardoust and successfully brought the lead down to just 7 points. Coach Baldwin had no choice but to regroup his team and burned another timeout. Oshin Sahakian’s three-pointer closed the gap to just 2.

    LA Tenorio ended Gilas’ scoring drought with a floater over the 7-foot Kardoust. Not wanting to be humiliated in his second home, Andray Blatche made some ways to bring up the lead. Blatche’s gesture of “this is our house” pumped-up his teammates and the crowd. Blatche made another big defensive stop by blocking Jamshidi’s close-range layup and converted it to 2-points courtesy of Terrence Romeo for a 9-0 scoring run.

    Gabe Norwood who was an import-stopper in the PBA rejected another Iran-shot to secure the ball game.

    As the final buzzer sounded, Gilas wrapped up their local training camp with a convincing 81-70 win over Haddadi sans Iranian Team before flying out to Europe for another set of friendly games and intensive trainings.

    Here's the full video replay of Gilas Pilipinas vs. Iran Tune-up Game (credit Sports5):

    --Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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