(Hwaseong Sports Complex Gymnasium)
2 p.m. Philippines vs Iran (Korea time)
INCHEON, Korea –The message to Gilas Pilipinas from India coach Scott Flemming was pretty damn simple–knock down your shots.
That may have been sound advice for the Pinoy hoopsters in the 17th Asian Games.
But for the longest time, it has always been Iran making the shots when it mattered most.
The Iranians have owned the Filipinos ever since they burst into the Asian basketball scene with a title conquest in the 2007 FIBA Asia Champonship.
In the recent FIBA Asia Cup Championships in Wuhan, China only last July, the Hamed Haddadi-led Iranians crushed Gilas by 21 points, 76-55. And it was the same story all over again during the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships in Manila, where the Middle Eastern powerhouse humbled the host team, 85-71, right before its countrymen.
But those frustrations were suffered before the Philippines earned valuable learning experience in the recent FIBA World Cup in Spain, where they made heads turn and notched their first win in nearly four decades, edging Senegal, 81-79, in overtime.
The team that Iran will face today at 2 p.m. (Korea time) is a different one, more mature and hopefully, more confident.
“They (Filipinos) held their own in the World Cup. I watched some of those games and they weren’t embarrassed at all even in the games that they lost. They were pretty close. If they can play those teams like that, they can certainly beat Iran,” said Flemming after his tired Indian team gave Filipinos a tough time before bowing, 85-76, on Tuesday. “Yeah, you’re team has a chance (to beat Iran).”
But at the back of his head on Wednesday, Flemming maybe retracting his kind words to the Philippines after the Iranians bulldozed the Indians by 35 big points, 76-51.
That spectacular win by India may have sent a strong message that they mean business in a tournament they have never ever won.
For Gilas to have chance, they must play consistent ball from start to finish, according to coach Chot Reyes.
“Basketball is a 40-minute game. We can’t go out and play good basketball for only 38 minutes and expect to win,” said Reyes.