IT WILL be the Philippines versus Iran all over again.
But this time, it will Meralco, which represents the Philippines, and Petrochimi, which carries the banner of Iran, facing off in the semifinals of the FIBA Champion’s Cup in Nonthaburi, Thailand.
Game time is 7 p.m. Monday (Bangkok time).
The winner of the Meralco-Petrochimi match will meet the victor of the other semifinal encounter pitting Group B topnotcher Alvar Tokyo and Group B runner-up SK Knights for the championship.
Meralco did it the hard way, needing to win its third and final elimination assignment to make it.
After dropping its first two assignments against host Mono Vampire Thailand and Akvark Tokyo, Meralco demolished two-time champion Al Riyadi of Lebanon, 96-63, in their no-tomorrow encounter late Saturday night.
The win by Meralco, coupled with Alvark’s 108-100 win over Mono Vampire, created a three-way tie for the second semis berth in Group B.
The PBA-supporetd Filipinos, who needed to beat the Lebanese by 11 points to claim the three-way tiebreaker, did so by blowing out their heavily-favored opponents.
They will advance to the semifinal round against Petrochimi, which swept Group A with three straight wins.
The result of the game also guarantees that there will be a new champion in the tournament featuring top club teams from Asia.
KG Canaleta and Garvo Lanete provided the spark for the Bolts, who turned the game around with a decisive 15-0 run in the second quarter and established as many as 34-point lead enroute to the lopsided victory.
Canaleta finished with 20 points, including 6-of-8 shooting from the three-point area, while Lanete added 18 points with 3-of-5 from the rainbow territory for the Norman Black-mentored Bolts.
Meralco also received the usual big number from imports Diamond Stone ( 20 points, 10 rebounds) and Allen Durham ( 10 points, 11 rebounds)
Anjo Caram also had a superb all-around game with 11 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Overall, Meralco made 10 three-pointers on 45.5 percent shooting and made 16 of 23 free throws.
Al-Riyadi, on the other hand, was limited to only 19.4 percent from downtown on 31 attempts and mae only seven free throws all game long.