Iran bamboozles PH

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In a blur Top Philippine point guard Jayson Williams beats Iranian defender Aren Davoudichehkordi to the basket during their Fiba World Cup game at the Mall of Asia Arena. ROMAN PROSPERO

Team Pilipinas suffered another major collapse, this time against a shorthanded Iran squad, 70-78, for a second straight home loss at the end of the fifth window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers Monday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

After stealing the driver seat, 70-69 off June Mar Fajardo’s short have in the 1:06 mark, the Nationals got blanked the rest of the way, surrendering the last nine points to the Iranians en route to another shocking defeat.

Hot-shooting foes

Behnam Yackchalehkordi racked up four straight points in that stretch for a 73-70 lead in the last 26 seconds before the stunned Team Pilipinas committed consecutive turnovers which Iran converted to easy transition baskets on their way to a thrilling escape act.

Coming off a crucial loss to Kazakhstan, 88-92, last Friday at the same venue, this defeat now dragged Team Pilipinas into joint fourth place in Group F with Japan with identical 5-5 records entering the sixth and last sixth window of the Asian Qualifiers next February.

Window narrows

This loss made life even difficult for Team Pilipinas as only three teams will qualify in the World Cup next year slated in China.

Jayson Castro made a roaring national team return with 19 points, five rebounds and two assists but those weren’t enough to lift the Philippines to a much-needed win.

Christian Standhardinger and Marcio Lassiter also added 17 and 12 points, respectively, in the loss.

Solo second

Meanwhile, the Iranians just couldn’t be denied even without injured key players Hammed Haddadi and Nikkhah Bahrami as veteran Mohammad Jamshidijafarabadi took the lead with 26 points and seven assists.

Yackchalehkordi also added 21 points and seven rebounds for Iran which made up for its 47-76 loss to Australia last week in Melbourne.

This win also pushed back Iran to solo second place in Group F with 6-3 slate, boosting its World Cup chance.

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