By REYNALD MAGALLON
Gilas Pilipinas 3×3 men’s team opened its FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup campaign on a wrong foot, yielding to a rugged and physical Iran, 14-11 at the Singapore Sports Hub OCBC Square on Friday, March 31.
The Nationals got into foul trouble and that spelled doom, blowing away an 11-7 lead after they entered into double-penalty situation with only 1:20 remaining in the contest.
Although Gilas dodged huge bullets when Iran missed four consecutive free throws, the double-penalty, which merited the Iranians two free-throws plus ball possession for every Gilas foul, along with their size advantage were just too much for the Filipinos to overcome.
Piter Girgoorian led Iran with seven points — none bigger than his layup plus two free throws that shoved his team within one, 11-10.
Another Girgoorian layup and a Mohammadsina Vahedi short stab allowed Iran to take the lead before Almond Vosotros missed on a potential game-tying free-throw with 15 seconds left, dashing all of Gilas’ comeback hopes.
Gilas newcomer Brandon Bates paced the Filipinos with five points while Vosotros added four.
They are now facing Qatar in a must-win game which is being played at press time.
Meanwhile, the women’s 3×3 team also begins their campaign in the main draw on Saturday, March 31.
An intact crew of Afril Bernardino, Janine Pontejos, Clare Castro and Khate Castillo takes on top-seed China in their first assignment at 2:50 p.m. before also facing Iran at 6:15 p.m. to wrap up the pool play. Gilas women’s team also needs to finish in the top 2 of its pool to advance to the playoffs.