Iran NT past Smart Gilas Pilipinas NT, 81-68

source: June Navarro |

HSINCHUANG, Taiwan — Smart Gilas-Pilipinas stayed within upset range but the winning punch never came.

Powerhouse Iran shrugged off jet lag to exact an 81-68 win over the Filipinos in its opening match in the 32nd William Jones Cup International Basketball Tournament on Thursday at the Hsinchuang Coliseum here.

Bone-tired following a 26-hour flight from Italy on Wednesday, the Iranians had to lean on Iman Zandi’s three-pointer and the inside game of Asghar Kardoust in the waning minutes to finally break the resolve of the Filipinos.

Smart Gilas absorbed its second straight loss in 2010 to the Iranians, who have won all the major continental tournaments in the past two years.

Scheduled to represent Asia in the Fiba World Championship next month in Turkey, Iran ruled the 2009 Fiba Asia Championships, defended the crown with its club team Mahram in the Dubai International Tournament in January, and topped the Fiba Asia Champions Cup in Doha, Qatar in May.

We cannot be disappointed because we played with a lot of heart,” said Smart Gilas coach Rajko Toroman, the genius behind Iran’s 2007 Fiba Asia Championship victory and 2008 Beijing Olympic stint.

Trailing 58-44, Smart Gilas cut the deficit through the efforts of Mark Barroca, Chris Tiu and Marcus Douthit.

Tiu nailed a three-pointer and Douthit split his free throws to push Gilas within 57-63.

But Zandi fired a triple from the corner and the 6-foot-10 Kardoust, who scored 12 of Iran’s 20 points in the final period, threw his weight in the paint to put order on the Iranian offense.

Samad Nikkah Bahrami finished with 27 points while Kardoust and Zandi added 18 and 16 for the Iranians.

“The Philippines is improving every game. They become better and better every time we play them,” said Iran head coach Veselin Matic. “Give this team three more years together and we will have a tougher time beating them.”

Missing in the Iranian lineup were the 7-foot-2 Hamed Haddadi and 6-foot-10 forward Hamed Afagh.

Smart Gilas, who dumped the Chinese Taipei University All-Star, 83-52, in Wednesday’s inaugurals, had its last taste of the lead on Greg Slaughter’s putback, 22-21, off Marcio Lasitter’s miss.

The scores:

IRAN 81 —Bahrami 27, Kardoust 18, Zandi 16, Kamrany 9, Sahakian 5, Amini 3, Davarpanah 2, Doraghi 1, Davoudi 0, Baheran 0, Arghavan 0.

SMART GILAS 68 —Douthit 16, Lasitter 15, Tiu 11, Baracael 8, Barroca 8, Slaughter 6, Casio 4, Lutz 0, Aguilar 0.

Quarters: 25-22, 45-35, 61-51, 81-68

July 15, Thursday, Day 2 Results
1st Game: Iran NT def. Philippines NT, 81-68
2nd Game: Japan NT def. Townsville Crocodiles, 97-69
3rd Game: Taiwan NT def. Taiwan University All-Stars, 74-64

July 16, Friday, Day 3 Games
3:00pm: Japan NT vs. Iran NT
5:00pm: Townsville Crocodiles vs. Philippines NT
7:00pm: Taiwan NT vs. Lebanon NT

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