Gilas Pilipinas seems to have found the momentum after suffering a shock-defeat in their first game against Palestine. On Monday’s crucial group encounter in the second phase of the FIBA Asia championship, Gilas defeated long-time tormentor Iran 87-73 at CSWC Dayun in Changsha, China.
Reigning champions Iran led by 10 points in the third quarter and the match was wide open by then. But Gilas triggered a tremendous comeback in the next phase of the game to notch up a moral-booster victory on the road to Rio Olympic Games 2016. The win will also help Gilas finish at the top of group E, a position that would help them evade mighty China in the knockout stages until the finals.
Jayson Castro, the hero of the Hong Kong game, dished out another stellar show on Monday. He posted 26 points, 3 steals and assists to lead the Gilas from the front. Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva came off the bench with intense fire-power to add 15 and 13 points to the tally, respectively.
Andray Blatche, who suffered an ankle injury last game, also posted 18 points. But the Gilas star was slapped with two early fouls in the first quarter. Blatche was instrumental in defending Iran star Hamed Haddadi which helped Philippines dominate over their opponents, who tasted their first defeat in this edition of the tournament on Monday.
Gilas now plays India on Tuesday. A win will ensure top spot of Group E for the title aspirants.