ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (22nd FIBA Asia U18 Championship): Size advantage came into play in ample measure and more importantly kept Iran in good stead as the WABA U18 champions upped the ante when needed and defeated their SEABA U18 counterparts Philippines 93-72 to take the top place in Group D of the Prelim Round competition.
“It looked easy in the final score,” said Iran coach Mehran Hatami heaving a sigh of relief.
“But on the court it was far from that,” he added.
“We knew it was going to be tough. We probably didn’t hustle enough in our defense in the first half,” Hatami said.
That Philippines standing a good 10cms shorter in average height (Philippines stand at 185.47 cms against Iran’s 195.50 cms) held a 16-11 advantage in defensive rebounds at the end of the first half probably underlined such a reaction from the Iran coach.
Hatami’s opposite number on the Philippines Olsen Racela too expressed similar comments.
“We lost out on rebounding in the second half,” Racela said.
Iran eventually picked up their act under the board and went on to finish with 51-41 ahead on the board collections – 27-32 on defense.
“Also we committed one too many turnovers,” Racela said.
Philippines turned the ball over 26 times (on 10 steals) against Iran’s 16 turnovers on 17 steals.
“You just cannot commit that many turnovers and expect to win a game at this level against such a good team,” Racela said.
“The positive side of it is that, if we can cut down our mistakes we do stand a chance against taller teams. That is the encouraging thought we’ll take into the Second Round,” he said.
“The advantage of this win will be seen when we play the Second Round,” Hatami said.
“Now we know where we stand against teams that use speed. And speed is the strength most of our opponents in the Second Round,” the Iranian coach added.
Vahid Dalirzahan led Iran’s scoring with 21 points with Rahmati Hossein and Sajjad Mashayekhi returning double-doubles.
Rodolfo Alejandro’s dozen was the highest for Philippines.