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Philippines survive late game scare to beat Iran in OQT warm-up
MANILA (2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments) - The Philippines survived a late Iranian comeback to beat their continental rivals 81-70 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday in a tune-up game ahead of the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Manila.
Both teams had squared off a day earlier in a closed-door scrimmage where the Philippines also ran out victorious (71-64).
The hosts dominated the first quarter thanks to an excellent shooting performance by Japeth Aguilar. The Ginebra big man, who came off the bench, scored 10 points in the first quarter alone to lead an 18-3 burst that saw the Philippines lead 29-15 at the end of the first quarter.
Philippines' dominant display continued early in the second quarter but three consecutive three pointers allowed Iran to reduce the deficit to the ten points at half-time (48-38).
Despite the encouraging end to the second quarter, Iran were once again outscored by the Philippines in the third quarter. Blatche's jump shot initiated an 11-0 run for Gilas who at one point led by 23 points, only for the visitors to cut it back to 17.
Iran, who were recently crowned WABA Champions, all of a sudden burst into life in the fourth quarter, outscoring the hosts 20-5 to pull within just two points with three minutes left on the clock.
But naturalised big-man Andray Blatche and LA Tenorio came up with by big shots down the stretch to preserve the victory in front of the home crowd.
Blatche finished with game-high 20 points and 11 rebounds. Ryan Reyes, Japeth Aguilar and Terrence Romeo each had 12 points, while Bobby Ray Parks Jr. finished with 11 points.
The Philippines will leave on Friday for Greece where they will have a 10-day training camp, to be followed by tune-up games against Turkey, China, Canada, and Italy.