DOHA (21st FIBA Asia Champions Cup): Defending champions Mahram of Iran came up with a disciplined showing to stop the enthusiasm of Smart Gilas of Philippines in its tracks in a Group A game on Tuesday.
Mahram’s 86-72 win – their third from as many games in the competition – pits them for a Group topper clash with hosts Al Rayyan, who earlier posted a similar win record.
Smart Gilas, having suffered their third defeat in succession, now face the task of beating Iraq’s Duhok in the last game of preliminary round on Wednesday.
Mahram, as was expected did all the running for the better part of the first quarter.
Smart Gilas, looking out for an opening the tough Mahram defense, scattered their rivals early in the second.
Serbian import Milan Vucicevic’s back-to-back successes on the pain followed by Rafael Juz’ crisp long-ranger and Marnel Baracel’s attractive lay-up even gave the Filipino a 28-26 lead early in the second quarter.
But Mahram recovered their composure and hit back.
Hamed Afagh combined well with Jackson Vroman and Kaveh Nourafza as the Iranian league champions regained their lead and powered ahead with a 10-0 run to take a 36-28 lead never to look back.
Vroman top scored the game with 28 points, and collected half as many rebounds.
“I guess we made some loose mistakes in our defense,” said Mahram captain Mahdi Kamrany.
“These things happen in deep competitions like this, especially against a speedy team like the Smart Gilas,” said Samad Nikkah.
“It was a fantastic experience for the boys to play such a tough and tested opposition,” said Smart Gilas coach Toroman Rajko.
Mahram, IRI 86 (Jackson Vroman 28, Loren Woods 20, Hamed Afagh 16, Mahdi Kamrany 12) bt Smart Gilas, PHI 72 (Mark Baroca 13, Marnel Baracel 11). Quarterwise Scores: 23-16, 38-33, 61-53.