Ateneo-Philippines settled for a fourth-place finish in the 40th William Jones Cup after succumbing to Iran, 63-70, Sunday at the Xinzhuang Gymnasium in Taiwan.
The Blue Eagles did not look like the only collegiate team going up against bigger and more experienced foes as they finished the tournament with a 5-3 record.
A win would have put Ateneo in the running for the bronze medal but the Iranians closed out the game strong to come away with the victory.
Last game's hero Matt Nieto topped for Ateneo with 14 points and three assists while Thirdy Ravena contributed 12 points, three rebounds, and three dimes.
Angelo Kouame finished with a double-double of 11 points and 14 boards, to go with four blocks and two steals. Gian Mamuyac and Isaac Go added nine markers apiece.
"Sorry we fell short on our last game, but we just want to thank everyone who came out and supported us throughout the tournament. It was a great honor playing for the country and every single one of you," wrote Ravena on Twitter after the loss.
A strong second quarter pushed the Philippines ahead by eight, 39-31, at the halftime break. But Vahid Dalirzahan and Rasoul Mozafarivanani heated up from downtown to propel Iran back on top. The two combined for five 3-pointers en route to a 23-11 third frame and a four-point edge entering the fourth.
The Blue Eagles stayed within striking distance but they failed to close the gap due to sorry misses and turnovers in the closing stretch. They managed to inch within two, 64-62, at the 1:49 mark after a Kouame drive, but Iran quickly responded with a bucket from Torabi Mohammad off a pick-and-roll play.
Kouame sank a free throw to make it a one-possession ballgame before Mozafarivanani made it 67-63 with his own split from the line. Ateneo had another opportunity to move closer but Nieto's jumper in the next possession rimmed out. Dalirzahan then sealed the deal with a long 3.
Dalirzahan torched the Philippines with 26 points including seven 3-pointers while Mozafarivanani poured in 16 markers.
Iran (70) - Dalirzahan 26, Mozafarivanani 16, Vand 9, Mohammad 8, Azari 4, Khandanpour 4, Pazrofteh 3, Sheikhi 0, Bahramzad 0, Monji 0. Ateneo-
Philippines (63) - Nieto, Ma. 14, Ravena 12, Kouame 11, Mamuyac 9, Go 9, Nieto, Mi. 6, Navarro 2, Asistio 0, Verano 0, Andrade 0, Black 0, Maagdenberg 0.
QUARTERSCORES: 15-14, 31-39, 54-50, 70-63.