Gilas battles through Iran’s ferocious charge to reach the semifinals

Oct 5, 2023

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MANILA, Philippines – In the 19th Asian Games basketball contests, Gilas Pilipinas defeated Iran 84-83 in a nail-biting finale to secure a semifinal spot.

In order to pull off the exciting victory at the Zijingang gymnasium, the Filipinos had to make up for a large 21-point deficit they had in the third quarter. Justin Brownlee’s heroics in the closing minutes of the game plus a little bit of luck helped.

In the crucial fourth quarter, Brownlee was limited to just two points, but his floater with 44 seconds left gave Gilas the lead for good.

The Philippine team will now square off with defending champion China on Wednesday for a place in the gold medal match after the host defeated South Korea, 84 to 70, in their own quarter final pairing.

“It came down to the last play, and we’re lucky to win,” an obviously relieved Tim Cone, the Gilas coach, said afterwards.

“We shouldn’t have put ourselves in that position. But that is the way these kinds of games are in international (competitions). They could turn to a dime, and this one turned into a dime.”

Brownlee scored 36 points in all, 34 of which came in the opening three periods. Along with shooting 5-of-7 from outside the arc, the Barangay Ginebra import added eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals.

In fact, Gilas required every point the 35-year-old Brownlee could provide as Iran unexpectedly erupted in the fourth quarter, erasing a 62 to 41 lead behind the shooting from three-point range of Mohammadsina Vahedi and Matin Aghanjapour.

When Navid Rezaeifar scored his final two points, giving him a total of 14 points, the Iranians gained the advantage, 8 to -82, and the game was decisively changed.

However, Brownlee brought Gilas back in control by making a side floater to make the score 84-83. The Filipinos then held their collective breath as Aghanjapour missed a crucial three-point attempt for Iran with 25 seconds left in the game.

June Mar Fajardo, who finished with 18 points, eight rebounds, and four assists while coping with Iran’s aggressive and muscular interior play, was also a major contributor for Gilas.
Iran, which has dropped from the fifth to the eighth position in the classification, was led by Vahedi, who scored 24 points on 4-of-8 shooting from outside the arc.

Scores at the end of the match

Philippines with 84 points for the win

Individual scores: Brownlee (36) Fajardo (18), Thompson (11), Oftana (7), Kouame (4), Newsome (2), Alas ((0) Tolentino ((0) Aguilar ((0)), and Kouame (6).

Iran with 83 points

Individual scores: Vahedi (24), Rezaeifar (14), Aghajanpour (11), Girgoorian (8), Mashayekhi (6), Kazemi (6), and Saijad (2).

Scores per quarter

28 to 22, 48 to 36, 71 to 54, and 84 to 83

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