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Gilas averts collapse, nips Iran; faces host China in Asian Games semis

Hangzhou, China—Gilas Pilipinas averted a monumental fourth-quarter collapse and hung on to a scrambling 84-83 win over Iran on Tuesday to advance to the semifinals of the 19th Asian Games at the ZJU Gymnasium here.

It took a Justin Brownlee basket in the final 44 seconds and a Calvin Oftana rebound off an Iran miss to finally secure the win for the Filipinos, who will now battle in the semifinals a Chinese host team seeking payback against Gilas for humiliating them in the FIBA World Cup last August.

“It went down to the last play, and we’re lucky to win,” said coach Tim Cone. “But we shouldn’t have put ourselves in that position. But these are the kind of games are in international (tournament). They could turn on a dime.”

After a massive 80-41 win over Qatar on Monday, Gilas looked primed to duplicate the ghastly win after leading the Iranians, 71–54, going into the final quarter. They had led by as many as 21 points earlier.

UP CLOSE. Gilas Pilipinas center Angel Kouame flips a shot past three Iran defenders in their Asian Games men’s basketball quarterfinal match Tuesday in Hangzhou, China. POC Photo

But the Iranians would not fold down easily, outscoring the Filipinos, 29-13, in the final period, where they even led twice, the last at 83-82.

Brownlee then saved the Filipinos with a floater to give them back the lead at 84-83, before Oftana soared for the rebound off Matin Aghajanpour’s missed three-pointer with 25 seconds to secure the win.

The 6-foot-6 Brownlee had 36 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while Junemar Fajardo hauled eight boards and four assists on top of his 18 points.

Gilas plays China at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, marking the first time the Philippines plays in a semifinal in the Asian Games since 2002. The Filipinos lost to host South Korea then, 69-68.

Led by NBA star Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jaz, the Filipinos beat the Chinese, 96–75, in their last meeting at this year’s World Cup last month.

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