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Iran stuns Gilas with late comeback

By Ivan Saldajeno

Iran swept its group stage assignments after a hard-fought 68-63 win against Gilas Pilipinas in their Asian Games basketball match in Incheon, South Korea.

The Iranians bucked off a collapse in the second and the third periods as they ended the game on a 15-3 run to hold off the Filipinos.

Iran got off to a hot start as it opened a 29-17 lead after the first quarter.

Gilas, however, put up a lockdown defense on Iran in the next period, limiting the latter to only seven points and cutting its lead to only two at halftime, 36-34.

Gilas finally took the lead, 41-37, behind a 7-1 run early in the third frame.

But Iran scored six unanswered points to go up again, 43-41.

Back-to-back triples from L.A. Tenorio sparked a 10-1 Philippine rally to open its largest lead, 51-44.

The Iranians, however, still drew to within a striking distance at the end of the third after a 6-2 run cut the Filipinos' lead to three, 53-50.

Gilas looked to pull away anew as it rebuilt its seven-point cushion, 60-53, with around six minutes left in the game.

But a field goal by Hamed Haddadi and six straight points from Mehdi Kamrani gave Iran the lead again, 61-60, two minutes later.

Paul Lee split his charities to tie the game at 61 apiece with 3:30 left.

Gabe Norwood gave Gilas its last taste of the lead, 63-61, with two free throws at the 1:50 mark of the fourth.

But five straight points, including three from the charity stripe, by Nikkhah Bahrami put Iran up, 66-63, with 22.3 seconds left.

Marcus Douthit tried to save Gilas, but he missed a three-pointer that could have forced overtime with 2.2 seconds remaining.

Haddadi sealed the Iranian win with two free throws on the other end.

The win put Iran to Group H in the quarterfinals, while Gilas will join Group G.

Both teams secured quarterfinal berths following Iran's win over India yesterday.
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