Islam Abbaas drives to the hoop on the 1st day
of action in Wuhan, China.
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After the Jump: Scores, commentary and images from Day 1 of the 2011 FIBA-Asia Men's Championships in Wuhan, China.

PLUS: A brief commentary on the whole eligibility issue hounding several teams.

JORDAN over SYRIA, 71-58
JOR 71 - Wright 20, Dahglas 19, Abbaas 8, Abbas 8, Zaghab 5, Soobzokov 5, Al-Sous 5, Abuquora 1, Al-Khas 0
SYR 58 - Jlilati 13, Nalbandian 11, Al-Hamowi 8, Daks 7, Kasaballi 7, Lubus 5, Deeb 3, Al-Saman 2, Osfira 2, Al-Khatib 0
QS: 18-12, 31-36, 56-46, 71-58
- Behind the hot shooting of Wael Jlilati and Vache Nalbandian, Syria was able to mount a lead in the first half, but the Jordanians, thanks to Rasheim Wright and Sam Dahglas, put on a run in the 3rd stanza that gave them some separation.
- Syrian big man Abdulwahab Al-Hamowi had some good moments in the fourth, but Jordan proved to be too much. It's clear Syria is missing star scorer Michael Madanly, and maybe even another player whose eligibility was being questioned (Eder Araujo Georges).
- Jordan pulled through at just the right time to avoid a stressful endgame and ready themselves for a big one against the Japanese tomorrow. Islam Abbaas helped the Jordanians keep in step with Syria in the first half, where he scored 7 of his 8 markers.

Rasheim Wright led a 3rd quarter charge to break the game open.
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Wael Jlilati was the hot hand for Syria that kept them close
early in the game.
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IRAN over TAIWAN, 49-37
IRI - Bahrami 18, Kazemi 8, Haddadi 8, Sahakian 6, Davoudi 3, Davari 2, Kamrani 2, Afagh 2, Kardoust 0
TPE - Wu 15, Lin 8, Chen HA 7, Chien 4, Tseng 3, Lee 0, Su 0, Lu 0, Ho 0, Chang 0
QS: 10-8, 17-19, 32-31, 49-47
- The Taiwanese held on for dear life throughout most of the game until Samad Nikkhah Bahrami showed up and strutted his stuff, scoring 16 points in 7 minutes to lead Iran past Chinese-Taipei in what was a very low-scoring affair.
- Wu Tai-Hao, coming off sick bay, held his own against Iranian giant Hamed Haddadi in the first half, where he scored all but 2 of his points. Coach Chou Jun-San's wards, however, weren't able to take advantage of their numerous looks from downtown as they only hit 2 of 20 triples. Leading sniper Lin Chih-Chieh shot 0-of-7 from deep.
- Coach Vaselin Matic's boys showed good resolve in coming from as many as 10 points down to thwart Taiwan's upset hopes. Nobody aside from Samad broke into double-digits, but almost everyone did score, save for Asghar Kardoust. It was a slow start that should motivate Iran to play tougher in their next game against depleted Qatar.

Chen Hsin-An made some key baskets to
keep Taiwan within striking distance.
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Hamed Haddadi struggled against
 Taiwan's Wu Tai-Hao.
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Mehdi Kamrani wasn't particularly spectacular
in Iran's first outing.
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JPN 81 - Takeuchi J 11, Kawamura 10, Takeuchi K 10, Hirose 8, Shonaka 8, Amino 7, Matsui 6, Sakurai 6, Ishizaki 6, Kashiwagi 5, Ota 4, Takeda 0
INA 59 - Sitepu 14, Poedjakesuma 12, Prawiro 9, Gunawan 6, Prihantono 5, Wuysang 5, Chandra 4, Situmorang 4, Gerungan 0, Derwanto 0, Haryoko 0, Indrawan 0
QS: 15-8, 37-24, 61-39, 81-59
- For a while there, it seemed like the Indons were going to make this one interesting, but the Japanese turned up the jets late in the 2nd quarter to leave the SEABA bridesmaids in the dust. They sustained the pressure in the last 2 periods to open their FIBA-Asia campaign on a good note.
- Christian Sitepu and Andi Poedjakesuma fought hard early on as the Indons were able to stick it to their East Asian foes, but, alas, they just didn't have enough skill to keep up with the spirited Japanese. Sitepu and Poedjakesuma combined for 5 of Indonesia's 8 treys.
- The Takeuchi twin towers lorded it underneath for coach Tom Wisman. They outrebounded and just thoroughly outplayed the Indons, showing the results of their long, hard training in Europe. A tougher opponent, however, awaits them tomorrow in the form of Jordan.

Andi Poedjakesuma led Indonesia's efforts
to stick with the Japanese in the 1st half.
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Joji Takeuchi throws it down as the Japanese pull away.
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Team B call-up Takeki Shonaka hit a couple of
treys to extend Japan's lead.
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KOR 89 - Cho 16, Oh 13, Lee 11, Stevenson 11, Ha 10, Yang DG 8, Kang 6, Kim YH 6, Kim JK 6, Kim JS 2, Park 0
MAS 42 - Kwaan 9, Ooi 6, Batumalai 5, Loh 5, Kuek 5, Lau 4, Chin 4, Soo 2, Wee 2, Kuppusamy 0, Ng 0, Chee 0
QS: 29-3, 47-22, 76-30, 89-42
- From the opening whistle, the Koreans just made minced meat out of Malaysia. Cho Sung-Min scored majority of his 16 points in a tragically lopsided 1st quarter where the Koreans just stamped their class. They had more rebounds, steals and assists than the hapless Malaysians, and hit 13 treys.
- Nobody cracked 10 points for Malaysia, and they had absolutely zero chance in this one. Perhaps they can have better luck against India tomorrow.
- The Koreans hardly broke any sweat in this one and should ride the momentum against an interesting match-up with the Lebanese next.

Ban Sin Ooi of Malaysia finds the door closed
by the tight Korean D.
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Cho Sung-Min led the opening salvo of the Koreans
that crippled Malaysia's chances.
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Ha Seung-Jin flashes his impressive wingspan against the Malays.
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PHL 92 - Baracael 15, Taulava 13, Douthit 13, Casio 11, Barroca 9, Tiu 9, De Ocampo 7, Alapag 6, Williams 5, Aguilar 4
UAE 52 - Ahmed 12, Al-Hattawi 11, Ahmad 10, Al-Zaabi 7, Salem 6, Al-Braiki 3, Abdalla 3, Al-Sari 0, Banihammad 0
QS: 17-12, 41-22, 69-35, 92-52
- Bucking a strange ruling that held the eligibility of wingmen Chris Lutz & Marcio Lassiter, the Filipinos still played tough and ran roughshod over the UAE five. Coach Rajko Toroman played all 10 guys on his active roster, and all scored at least 4 points to help the Pinoys start the pivotal tournament on a positive note. 
- PBA call-ups Jimmy Alapag, Ranidel De Ocampo, and Kelly Williams all did well in their debut and they should lift their play even more as the games get considerably tougher from here moving forward.The Pinoys actually had more turnovers than the Emirats, but they made up for it by having more rebounds and assists. It'll be exciting to see how they'll match-up with the hulking Chinese tomorrow.
- The Emirates actually started full of energy and spunk, gaining a 5-0 lead in the first few minutes, but when the Philippines turned it on they just had no answer. 

PBA reinforcement Ranidel De Ocampo played solid at the
starting PF spot for the Pinoys.
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Rashed Al-Zaabi's efforts were in vain as UAE dropped
its first game against stronger opposition.
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Marcus Douthit towered over the Emirates in the
Pinoys' opening match.
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UZB 27 - Shatrov 10, Juginisov 9, Belokurov 4, Nuraliev 2, Denisov 2, Yahin 0
QAT 12 - Saad 8, Matalkeh 4, Adam 0, Saeed 0, Salem 0
QS: 27-12
- After 5 of its players were deemed ineligible a day before the start of competitions, Qatar chose to end this one early by letting its players all foul out before the 1st period even ended. 
- The following suited up but sat on the sidelines: Tanguy Ngombo, Ousseynou N'Diaye, Mansour El-Hadary, Hassan Mohamed, and Mame Ndour. Unless Qatar can submit papers proving their compliance with eligibility requirements found in the 2010 FIBA rule book, then those aforementioned cagers won't play.
- The Uzbeks unexpectedly won their first assignment, but in controversial fashion. Nevertheless, they'll take this win and use the momentum to square off against the Taiwanese tomorrow.

The 5 "ineligible" Qataris can only look on as their team
suffers a defeat to the unheralded Uzbeks.
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Most of the points scored in Uzbekistan's strange opening win
came from the free throw line.
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LEBANON over INDIA, 71-68
LIB 71 - Abdelnour 24, Reda 15, Bawji 9, Hoskin 8, Kanaan 5, Martinez 4, Stephan 3, Tabet 2, Akl 1, Ibrahim 0
IND 68 - Koroth 20, Singh T 18, Singh J 9, Grewal 7, Bhriguvanshi 5, Singh Y 4, Singh Al 3, Singh At 2, Bharama 0, Mishra 0
QS: 20-16, 40-27, 54-59, 71-68
- If not for the heroics of Jean Abdelnour, this would've been the biggest upset of Day 1. It looked like Lebanon would blow out the Indians after leading by 13 at the half, but coach Ken Natt's boys didn't give up and even took a late lead before Abdelnour's clutch play. 
- Also hounded by the now infamous "eligibility" hullabaloo, the Lebanese looked lax on the floor, especially in the 2nd half, where they allowed the Indians to mount a serious rally that almost spelled disaster for returning head coach Ghassan Sarkis. Naturalized big man Sam Hoskin didn't impress too much, so he'll have to play much better if Lebanon is to advance to the 2nd round.
- Hareesh Koroth and Talwinderjit Singh were sniping revelations as the Indians converted on 8 of their 21 rainbow tries. If they continue playing like this, then advancing to the next round won't be a problem.

Lebanon's Jean Abdelnour carried the scoring load and
made the clutch baskets that decimated India's late lead.
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CHINA over BAHRAIN, 101-49
CHN 101 - Liu 15, Yi J 15, Zhu 13, Sun 11, Yi L 9, Zhang B 8, Xirelijiang 8, Zhang Z 7, Wang 6, Su 5, Yu 3, Ding 1
BRN 49 - Malabes 17, Isa 9, Al-Tawash 6, Khamis 6, Ali 5, Akber 4, Sarhan 2, Mahri 0, Al-Derazi 0, Mubarak 0, Ashoor 0, Malallah 0
QS: 25-20, 51-24, 77-45, 101-49
- The Chinese bucked a slow start to demolish a clearly overmatched Bahrain five. The Bahrainis started hot, taking a 6-point lead behind the stellar play of Bader Malabes, but once the Chinese settled down and tightened their defense, Bahrain gave up any semblance of resistance.
- China's veterans took charge here and left nothing to chance. As expected, Liu Wei, Yi Jianlian, Zhu Fangyu and Sun Yue led the team to this resounding opening win that should help them against the dangerous Filipinos tomorrow.
- Malabes, the Fil-Bahraini and former DLSU Green Archer, finished with 17 markers on the strength of 3 triples. In this team, he could be the star he never was back in Manila.

Yi Jianlian went through the motions in an easy
opening triumph over Bahrain.
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Fil-Bahraini Bader Malabes was the long bright spot
for the underdog Gulf side.
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Sun Yue drove to the hole at will against
a visibly outmatched Bahrain five.
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The Good: At least now FIBA is cracking down on the true ineligibles and enforcing their rules more strictly. This is especially true for the Qataris, who are notorious for fielding players with questionable ties to the home state.

The Bad: Timing is everything, and the timing of these eligibility-related decisions just screams of misguided transparency. How can FIBA allow the eligibility-checks just a day ahead of the biggest continental tourney of the past 2 years? Again, I applaud their desire to lay down the law. It is, after all, the right thing to do, BUT they haven't done it in the best way possible. Doing the right thing for the right reasons at the wrong time and in the wrong way doesn't make things better. In this case, it makes things worse. Now that Qatar, Syria and the Philippines have "lost" some key players, they are forced to make impromptu adjustments. All the time & resources they put into their programs have gone down the drain because of FIBA's ill-planned, and perhaps karma-driven, efforts at curbing sloppy management by FIBA-Asia.

The Ugly: So what will happen now? Syria will be without one of its top bigs (Eder Araujo Georges). Qatar will play without its starting 5. The Philippines will suffer because it lacks its two top wing defenders/shooters. And what's uglier is that these are guys who've donned the national colors before in the SEABA, SEA Games, Asian Games, Stankovic Cup and Champions Cup. Why didn't FIBA check their eligibility then? Why did FIBA allow them to play in the first place? 

When asked on the reason (and the precedent!) that some of these players were allowed to play in prior tourneys, FIBA-Asia Sec-Gen Hagop Khajirian replied with this, “I cannot judge how they played there, maybe they presented documents that we need now.” 

What does this imply? It basically implies that FIBA-Asia hasn't set a good precedent and hasn't managed its sub-orgs well enough, and now it's the teams and players who have to pay for FIBA-Asia's mismanagement and inefficient information dissemination. 

I won't be surprised at all if the "ineligible" players will no longer play in this, or even future, tourneys. But the way it was done and the timing, again, is smack-dab terrible. 

These are the articles being disputed:

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Implications: The way I understand it, Art 16 allows Chris Lutz & Marcio Lassiter to play for the NT, BUT Art 21 designates them as Naturalized players (like Marcus Douthit) UNLESS it is established that they have a SIGNIFICANT LINK with the country or NT. This, I believe, should be enough to let both Lutz and Lassiter play, as their links are aplenty -- their mothers are Pinays, they've played in the domestic league, they've played for the NT for the past couple of years, they've lived in Manila for a significant amount of time -- BUT it's all the prerogative of our "beloved" FIBA-Asia Sec-Gen, Hagop Khajirian. 

Please be enlightened Mr. Khajirian. Lutz and Lassiter weren't plucked to play for the NT and then expected to pick up and leave after the tourney. They are Pinoys. By blood. By choice. By law. Let them play.

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