By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
UP to the very end Gilas Pilipinas could not catch a break in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup as it finished its campaign without a win to show for after losing to Iran, 95-75, in its final game of the tournament on Sunday in Beijing, China.
Hoping to at least salvage a win to ease the sting of what had been a nightmare campaign in the global basketball spectacle, Gilas instead saw its struggles continue, dropping its fifth straight game as it exited the World Cup.
The Philippines competed strong in the opening quarter, able to keep in step with the Iranians and just down by six points, 30-24, at the end of the first 10 minutes.
In the second and third quarters, however, Iran pulled away from which Gilas could not recover from.
The Iranians outscored the Filipinos, 45-16, in said quarters to build a 25-point separation, 75-50, heading into the fourth quarter.
Gilas tried to fashion out a comeback to begin the payoff quarter but Iran held firm and maintained control of the contest the rest of the way en route to booking the win.
Hamed Haddadi led Iran with 19 points on top of seven rebounds and two blocks.
Mohammadsamad Nik Khahbahrami followed with 17 and Mohammad Jamshidijafarabadi with 16 points.
For the Philippines it was Robert Bolick who top-scored with 15 points followed by Andray Blatche with 12 points before he was ejected with five minutes left to play in the game for excessive complaining to the referee.
June Mar Fajardo had 10 and CJ Perez finished with nine markers.
Apart from exiting the tournament sans a win, the loss also meant Gilas failed to duplicate its 1-4 record in the 2014 World Cup in Spain.
With the 20-point victory, Iran, meanwhile, assured itself an automatic spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as the Asian team with the best record in the World Cup.