The road to 2016 Rio Olympics grew brighter for the Gilas Pilipinas after they upset mighty Iran, 87-73, on Monday in the ongoing FIBA Asia Championship second round elimination in Changsha City, China. The Filipinos showed a big heart and a never-say-die spirit as they recovered from as much as 10-point down to end their five-game losing streak against the Asia’s reigning champion.
Philippines is now leading in Group E.
Down by six points, 37-43, at the halftime, playmakers Jason Castro and Terrence Romeo teamed up with Andre Blatche to lead the Filipinos’ big run in the third period to grab the upperhand, 65-60, going into the final canto.
The Filipinos kept the pace in the fourth period and frustrated the defending champion with solid offense boosted by Calvin Abueva’s strong presence under inside the paint.
Castro spearheaded the Philippines with 26 points, highlighted with impressive 11-of-18 field goal shooting while Blatche added 18 points and Romeo shared with 15 markers.
Ranidel de Ocampo led the rebounding for the Filipinos with 10 rebounds as they limited Iran’s main man Hamed Haddadi to just 10 points and 7 rebounds before he was fouled out with 3:51 minutes left in the game.
The Philippines will face equally dangerous India on Tuesday, hoping to sweep the second round and advance to the knock-out quarterfinals against the fourth seed from Group F.
The champion of the tournament will earn ticket to represent Asia in the prestigious 2016 Rio Olympics Games in Brazil.