Iranians shut down Eagles in Jones Cup

MANILA, Philippines — Iran came through with clutch hits and foiled Ateneo’s bid for a third place finish with a 70-63 decision at the close of the William Jones Cup at the Xinzhuang Gymnasium in New Taipei City, Taiwan yesterday.

The Eagles, coming off a morale-boosting 77-76 thriller over Chinese-Taipei Saturday, actually took a six-point lead at the turn but failed to sustain their charge in the face of the taller, heftier Iranians’ fightback in the second half.

The Iranians seized control in the third period as they outscored the Eagles, 21-11, then survived the latter’s late comeback in the stretch to post their seventh win against a loss that tied them with Canada’s 3D Global Sports, which dismantled Japan, 99-84, earlier.

The Phl thus finished fourth with a 5-3 record regardless of how Chinese Taipei Blue (4-3) will fare against South Korea (6-1), in a game being played at press time.

For a college squad that faced national and club teams, it was a respectable effort for the Tab Baldwin-mentored Eagles.

Vahid Dalirzahan sizzled with seven triples and finished with a game-high 26 points while Rasoul Mozafarivanani scattered 16 markers to power the Iranians to victory.

Mat Nieto led the Eagles with 14 points but failed to weave the same magic he put up the night before when he hit the game-winning three-pointer against the dejected hosts.

The Filipinos relied on a balanced attack and had better shot selection to lead the Iranians after the first half, 39-33.

The scores:

Iran 70 – Dalirzahan 26, Mozafarivanani 16, Vand 9, Mohammad 8, Azari 4, Khandanpour 4, Pazrofteh 3, Sheikhi 0, Bahramzad 0, Monji 0

Ateneo 63 – Ma. Nieto 14, Ravena 12, Kouame 11, Mamuyac 9, Go 9, Mi. Nieto 6, Navarro 2, Asistio 0, Verano 0, Andrade 0, Black 0, Maagdenberg 0

Quarterscores: 15-14; 33-39; 54-50; 77-63