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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Team Melli Beats Gilas Once More

For the 4th straight time, Team Melli has beaten Gilas Pilipinas in international basketball competitions with a thrilling 68-63 victory in Group E of men's basketball competitions at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. The game was non-bearing and the results will have indications only in what way the teams will be grouped in the quarterfinals. Nevertheless, both teams played like it was a do-or-die affair.

Despite the loss, the Philippine basketball squad may have already found the key to beating Iran. The Philippines showed they can defend the Iranians as they climbed back from a 12-point deficit in the 1st quarter, 29-17 to come within 2 points, 34-36 at the intermission. Gilas held Iran to 7 points in the 2nd quarter and appeared to be on track for a much-needed morale-boosting victory over Iran when Iran made a 15-3 run late in the game to wrest control. Iran had landslide victories in recent match-ups with the Philippines, 84-71 at the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships finals in Manila, Philippines, and 76-55 at the semifinals of the 5th FIBA Asia Cup earlier this year at Wuhan, China.

At the start of the game, it looked like Iran was on course for another landslide victory. But Gilas once again stamped their brand of never-say-die basketball to take the 2nd quarter 17-7. Iran did not attempt a single free throw in the 2nd quarter. The Pinoy dribblers carried over their good second quarter showing to the 3rd quarter where they also outscored Iran 19-10. Iran took the 4th quarter and won the game on free throws by Hamed Haddadi and Mohammad Samad Nikkah Bahrami.

Both Iran and the Philippines advance to the quarterfinals. Iran will join Mongolia, China, and Japan in Group G while the Philippines will join hosts South Korea, Qatar, and Kazakhstan in Group H. Teams will play a single round-robin format with the teams in their quarterfinal groupings and the top 2 teams in each group advance to the semifinals.

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