Recreation and Sports

Delay hits Gilas return from Iran loss


Needing to crank up the heat on its shooting form, the Philippine men’s basketball team will have to cool its heels in a faraway airport after the Filipinos’ flight was delayed by 12 hours due to Typhoon Ompong.

With arrivals in the country held up by the powerful storm set to hit the country on Saturday, the Nationals had to wait it out in Tehran a day after dropping an 81-73 decision to Iran late Thursday night.

Originally scheduled to arrive 8:30 p.m. Friday evening, the Nationals are now expected to fly in 8 a.m. on Saturday.

And it’s too bad, because Gilas Pilipinas could have used the hours working on their shooting before going into their game against Qatar on Monday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

After the loss to Iran, which the Asian Games runner-up pinned on the team late in the fourth after the two squads battled through 20 lead changes in a nail-biting contest, the Philippines will now go into that closed-door match against Qatar needing a win to solidify its hold of the third spot in their second-round group.

Only the top three teams from the group will qualify for the 2019 World Cup in China.

Currently, Gilas Pilipinas is at no. 3 with a 4-3 (win-loss) record with Japan and Kazakhstan trailing by a game.

The team’s shooters conked out against Iran, and that became telling despite Hamed Haddadi sitting out the duel because of a groin injury.

San Miguel Beer guards Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter were a combined 2-of-14 from beyond the arc, contributing to the Philippines’ frosty 5-of-28 (18 percent) clip from three-point territory.

The cold shooting allowed Iran to clamp down hard late on Christian Standhardinger, who wreaked havoc with 30 points and 12 rebounds but was visibly worn down in the stretch.

Help is on the way though.

Matthew Wright sat it out against Iran after serving a one-game suspension for his role in the Philippines-Australia brawl on July 2 and should form a deadly shooting combo with Lassiter should Guiao call up both for the game against Qatar.

Japeth Aguilar, also suspended for one game, could also make his comeback as the Philippines will continue to miss standouts Andray Blatche, Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, and RR Pogoy due to varying degrees of suspensions.

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