Last September, the Asian Qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup entered into its Second Round stage. From the 16 seeded teams, all of which participated in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, four teams were whittled away in fierce competition, leading to 12 national contingents divided into two groups of 6, with the top three teams of each group at the end of the round going into the World Cup next year. The Philippine Men’s National Team Gilas came up second on its First-Round Group B, but in this Second Round it has been hammered by opposing teams, the latest being a home game defeat against Iran on Monday.
CNN Philippines reports that Gilas slammed once again into the stone wall that is the Iranian national team on December 3, much to the pain of the Philippine home crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena. Despite some spirited play from Gilas members, in the end the score was 70-78 for the visiting Iranians, the same point lead they had when the Philippines took it on at their home court back in September 13 (81-73), the first game for Group F of the FIBA World Cup Asia qualifiers Second Round.
Initially Gilas was able to hold its own, bolstered by home court support and the scoring leadership of Christian Stanhardinger (17) and Jayson Castro (19). But they were simply outmatched by the towering shadow of team Iran, which were spearheaded by the insane point output of former PBA – Meralco Bolts import Mohammad Jamshidi Jafarabadi (26) and Behnam Yakhchali Dehkordi (21). The crunch time came when the Iranians sped past the Philippines’ slim lead with 9 points at 54 seconds left in the game, with Gilas unable to answer or defend.
At present, Iran now occupies the second spot in Group F with a 7W-3L record for the Asian qualifiers. This puts them behind Team Australia, now fully qualified for the World Cup at 9W-1L. Gilas on the other hand is stuck at 4th place with 5 wins and losses even. They have to win their last remaining games to stay on course for possible qualification, similar to Lebanon (6W-4L) on Group E. Team Philippines will resume its FIBA campaign on February 21, 2019 with a game against the now-eliminated Qatari national team with a final game on the 24th against Kazakhstan, which also beat Gilas last November 30 at 88-92.
Image courtesy of GMA Network