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Iran pulls huge comeback to stun Gilas anew

Dubbed as "Asia's Best Point Guard", Jayson "The Blur" Castro led the Philippines' offense with 19 points during their match-up against Iran in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Asia Qualifiers, Monday evening at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. Photo by Rick Johnsen dela Cruz
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--Many thought Iran will struggle against Gilas Pilipinas on Monday night with Samad Nikkhah Bahrami and Hamed Haddadi out.

Not to mention big men Meisam Mirzaeh and Rouzbeh Arghavan fouling out while putting on an effort to guard Gilas' big men

But the Iranian side showed heart down the stretch.

Iran stunned the Mall of Asia Arena by edging Gilas, 78-70, in a crucial FIBA World Cup Qualifiers match.

With Japan winning over Kazakhstan earlier Monday in Toyama, all eyes were on the Gilas-Iran as a Gilas win would have forced a three-way tie for second place in Group F with one window of games left.

And Gilas was on track of doing so after leading by eight points, 60-52, with 8:25 to play.

But Iran went on a 15-2 run as Mohammad Jamshidi came alive to put Iran up, 67-62, with 4:28 remaining.

Gilas came up with six straight points capped by a huge triple from Jayson Castro just before the shotclock read zero to reclaim the lead, 68-67, with 2:57 to play.

However, Hamed Hosseinzadeh scored on an off-the-glass pull-up despite the tight Gilas defense to put Iran back up again, 69-68.

Junemar Fajardo gave Gilas its last taste of the lead, 70-69, with 1:06 remaining.

But Behnam Yakhchali scored on a tough jumper that sparked Iran's game-turning 9-0 run to steal the win.

Jamshidi finished with 26 points, four rebounds, and seven assists for Iran, which stayed in solo second at 7-3.

Yakhchali added 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and three steals.

Castro put up 19 points, five rebounds, two assists, and one steal in his first game back for Gilas, which fell to fourth place at 5-5.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno