Asi Taulava, Christian Standhardinger, and Beau Belga will have the unenviable task of defending Hamed Haddadi when Gilas Pilipinas faces Iran in the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers Thursday night in Tehran.
Gilas coach Yeng Guiao said he has tasked the trio to be the key defenders against the 7-foot-2 Haddadi, who remains a dominant force in Asia.
"We don't have June Mar Fajardo, we don't have Andray Blatche, and we don't have Greg Slaughter so the responsibility [to defend Haddadi] now falls on the shoulders of Asi, Christian Standhardinger and Beau Belga," Guiao said.
Fajardo and Slaughter are out with injuries while Blatche is serving a suspension for his part in the Philippines-Australia brawl on July 2.
The 33-year-old Haddadi averaged 21 points, 11.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2 blocks and 1.5 steals in Iran's silver-medal finish in the 2018 Asian Games earlier this month.
Guiao is confident that Gilas can capitalize on its quickness in order to neutralize Iran's size advantage.
"I think we have our hands full because the biggest problem will be the size between our team and their team, but we feel we have the advantage in terms of quickness. So if we can run a fast-paced game, then we'll be okay," Guiao said.
Joining Taulava, Belga and Standhardinger, are Paul Lee, Raymond Almazan, JP Erram, Gabe Norwood, Allein Maliksi, along with first-timers Alex Cabagnot, Ian Sangalang and Scottie Thompson. San Miguel sharp-shooter Marcio Lassiter returns to the Gilas after a seven-year absence.