Team Philippines played tough through the first three quarters but lost steam, poise and rhythm in the final canto, and dropped a 73-81 loss to Iran at the start of the second round of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers at Azagy Gym in the Iranian capital of Tehran Thursday night.
Down by just two at 61-63 at the start of the fourth quarter, Team Phl went down by 11 at 66-77 and eventually lost the game by nine while making only two field-goal baskets in the entire final period.
To the deafening chants of the home crowd, the Nationals lost their touch and thus went down to 4-3 in the leaderboard in Group F.
Barring weather disturbance, coach Yeng Guiao and his troops fly home Friday, hoping to get two good days of practices in preparation for their home game against Qatar Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
It will be a closed-door affair as part of FIBA's sanction to the national federation in the aftermath of the Gilas-Australia brawl.
Christian Standhardinger proved up to the task against the Iranian giants, exploding for 30 points but failed to get the needed support from his teammates, particularly the Filipino gunners.
Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter and the other Filipino gunners threw clunkers in the crunch.
In contrast, the Iranians hit a good rhythm and shooting in an opportune time.
Wing man Nikkhah Bahrami sizzled with 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists, point guard Sajjad Mashayekhi frolicked with 19 markers, four boards and four dish-offs while power forward Arsalan Kazemi powered his way to 11 markers and 11 boards.
Curiously, Iranian star behemoth Hamed Haddadi was fielded in only in the last 58 seconds of play on the prodding of the home fans. Obviously, he's nursing an injury.
The Nationals actually engaged the Iranians through a neck-and-neck battle before their fourth-quarter collapse.
Three-point shooting proved to be the big difference in Iran's fourth-quarter breakaway.
Held to only four three-pointers through the first 30 minutes of play, the Iranians struck with three dagger triples to highlight their decisive surge from a 63-61 count.
The two teams had identical 3-of-14 three-point shootings in the first half where Iran held a 40-38 edge.
But then all Filipino gunners turned cold with Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter both ending with 1-of-7 three-point clips, Beau Belga 1-of-5 and Paul Lee and Gabe Norwood both at 0-2.
Standhardinger was almost unstoppable in the first half, scattering 19 points on 7-of-9 field shooting plus 5-of-6 free throws.
As Iran threatened to pull away at 36-30, Standhardinger teamed up with Lassiter to stop the enemy charge and get Team Phl ahead at 38-36.
Earlier, the San Miguel Fil-German center/forward came through with back-to-back three-point plays as the Nationals took the opening quarter at 22-21.(SB)
Iran 81 - Bahrami 21, Mashayekhi 19, Kasemi 11, Arghavan 8, Yakhchali 7, Jamshidi 6, Mirza 5, Hassanzadeh 4, Saberi 4, Hadadi 0.
Philippines 73 - Standhardinger 30, Cabagnot 9, Belga 7, Lee 6, Almazan 5, Thompson 5, Lassiter 4, Taulava 3, Norwood 2, Sangalang 2, Malicisi 0, Erram 0.
Quarterscores: 21, 22, 40-38, 63-59, 81-73