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Gilas Pilipinas nearly blew a huge lead but held on to beat former Asian champion Iran, 81-70, last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Nationals, led by the 6-foot-11 Blatche and 6-foot-9 forward Japeth Aguilar, were in control much of the game – leading by as many as 23 points, 67-44, late in the third quarter.
However, Iran – behind Mohammad Jamshidi – rallied back as it cut the deficit to only two points, 70-72, on a three-point shot by veteran forward Oshin Sahakian with 2:59 to play.
Gilas countered as Blatche joined hands with LA Tenorio, Ray Parks and Terrence Romeo in a decisive 9-0 run that settled the final score. Gilas also won its first match with Iran (71-64) last Tuesday.
After the game, Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin reiterated the need to work on their chemistry.
“We have to continue improving that, although we had better ball movement this time,” said Baldwin.
The Iranians where without their own ‘big three’ in 7-2 Hamed Haddadi, Samah Nikkhah Bahrami and Mehdi Kamrani. Of the three, only Hadadi will play in the OQT in Turin, Italy.
GILAS 81 – Blatche 20, Romeo 12, Aguilar 12, Reyes 12, Parks 11, de Ocampo 4, William 3, Fajardo 3, Tenorio 2, Pingris 2.
IRAN 70 – Yakhchali 16, Sahakian 13, Mohammad 9, Zangeneh 8, Jamshidi 8, Arghavan 5, Farid 4, Kardoust 4, Mashayekhi 3, Dalirzaham 0.
Quarters: 29-15; 48-38; 67-50; 81-70.