The Philippine National Team fell late against Iran, 81-73, during their clash in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Iran started the game hot, scoring 14 early points that came mostly from close range, but the Filipinos were able to stay on their tails behind the heroics of Christian Standhardinger, who scored 10 points to help the Philippines to take a 22-21 lead to close the opening quarter.

During the second quarter, Standhardinger continued to capitalize on the absence of the opponent’s best rim protector Hamed Haddadi, but was slightly slowed by Iran’s pick-and-roll defense in the second half. The game continued in a back-and-forth affair, before Iran took the lead for good late in the third quarter and never looked back.

The Philippine side struggled from the three-point line all game long, shooting a horrid 17.9% from long distance, while allowing the Asian Games runners-up to hit crucial long shots to allow them to pull away.

The Haddadi-less Iran squad also had 19 second-chance points off 13 offensive boards. The former NBA center did enter the game in the final minute for unknown reasons, but was visibly bothered by an injury.

National team veteran Samad Nik Khahbahrami led Iran with 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Point guard Sajjad Mashayekhi added 19 points, while forward Arsalan Kazemi added 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Standhardinger was the lone bright spot for the Philippine squad, scoring a game-high 30 points off 10-for-14 shooting from the field. He also grabbed 12 boards while also adding two dimes and two steals, but had very little help as no other Filipino managed to notch double-figures.

Philippine head coach Joseller ‘Yeng’ Guiao will have to decide whether to continue with Standhardinger or activate cat-quick guard Stanley Pringle as their naturalized player when they host Qatar in a closed-door match at the Araneta Coliseum in Manila, Philippines on September 17 at 19:30 (+8 GMT).

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