Day 6 of the 2012 FIBA Asia Cup and Hagop Khajirian’s Crossover Move

Gary David shot his way to fourteen points, helping
Team Pilipinas advance to the semifinals.

It was an interesting series of quarterfinal matches on Day 6 of the 2012 FIBA Asia Cup. As expected, Iran had an easy time against Uzbekistan, while the Filipinos were true to form in disposing of a strong challenge from Taiwan. In contrast, the Lebanese floundered in the biggest upset of the tourney so far in their loss to Qatar, while Japan showcased their edge in experience as they dismantled the Chinese.

In related news, the FIBA-Asia Executive Committee finally decided on a venue for the 2013 FIBA-Asia Men’s Championship. Asia’s biggest basketball tournament will be held NOT in Manila, but in Beirut, Lebanon. More on this strange decision after the game recaps below.

Team Iran, outplaying Uzbekistan in virtually every aspect of the game, barged into the semifinals with much ease. The WABA powerhouse limited the CABA squad to just 25% FG shooting, forced them to 19 turnovers, and outrebounded them, 50-38. Asghar Kardoust was unstoppable in 17 minutes of play, scoring 12 points and grabbing 8 rebounds, while Aren Davoudi and Mohammad Jamshidi paired up for 21 points in the backcourt. Young big man Saleh Foroutan also did well, accounting for 9 markers and 10 boards. Star wingmen Samad Nikkhah Bahrami and Hamed Afagh didn’t need to play much here as the Uzbeks didn’t really put up much resistance. Nobody scored in double-digits for Coach Oleg Levin as Vyacheslav Denisov had a team-high 9 points.

Behnam Yakhchali goes up strong against
the taller Uzbeks.

Shuhrat Tangrikulov and the Uzbeks get the
boot after losing to Iran.

IRI 79 – Kardoust 12, Davoudi 11, Jamshidi 10, Arghavan 10, Foroutan 9, Aslani 6, Yakhchali 6, Sedighi 4, Mashayekhi 4, Bahrami 4, Afagh 3, Sahakian 0
UZB 37 – Denisov 9, Yahin 8, Timofeev 6, Kozlov 5, Nuraliev 4, Juginisov 2, Safarov 2, Kadirov 1, Tangrikulov 0, Nabiev 0, Shatrov 0, Rahimov 0
QS: 17-13, 32-16, 59-25, 79-37

Marcus Douthit carried the Philippine cause for three quarters before LA Tenorio rediscovered the form that enabled him to cop the MVP trophy of the 2012 Jones Cup.  Tenorio scored all 9 of his points in a stirring fourth quarter as the Pinoys withstood a stiff challenge from the determined Taiwanese. Gary David and Jeff Chan also hit big threes in the payoff period that saw Team Pilipinas erect a 14-point bubble, 71-57, with just 4 minutes to go. Taiwan countered with a brilliant 9-0 spurt to trim the lead to just 5 with under two minutes to go, but they would never get closer than that. Coach Chot Reyes of the Philippines bemoaned his team’s bad shooting, which he said they’d need to improve if they harbor any dreams of moving past Iran in the semis.

Ranidel De Ocampo uses his left hand to avoid
the outstretched arm of Wu Tai-Hao.

Lin Chih-Chieh flies for an uncontested lay-up.

PHI 75 – Douthit 19, David 14, De Ocampo 10, Tenorio 9, Fonacier 9, Dillinger 5, Chan 5, Norwood 4, Thoss 0
TPE 68 – Creighton 21, Lin 12, Chen SC 11, Tien 7, Wu 6, Mao 4, Lee 3, Chang 3, Tseng 1, Lu 0
QS: 10-13, 38-32, 54-53, 75-68

QATAR over LEBANON, 79-72
In the biggest upset of the day, Trey Johnson scored 28 points to lead the Qataris past Group A’s top-seeded team, Lebanon. Johnson, a one-time LA Laker, added 7 assists and 5 rebounds to his tally as Qatar never looked back after taking a first quarter lead. Mansour El Hadary and Mohd Yousuf Mohammed backstopped their naturalized import with 14 and 13 points respectively. Coach Tom Wisman’s wards offset their rebounding disadvantage by shooting 38% from beyond the arc. This was an ironic ending to the day for Lebanon as they were given news they would host the 2013 FIBA-Asia tourney in a controversial FIBA-Asia Executive Committee decision. Karma, perhaps? Or maybe a case of the Lebanese underplaying, since they knew they no longer needed to win anyway?

Trey Johnson's 28-point outburst led the Qataris past Lebanon.

Fadi El Khatib shot just 12 points in
the day's biggest upset.

QAT 79 – Johnson 28, El Hadary 14, Mohammed M 13, Daoud 7, Musa 5, Saeed 5, Abdi 4, Salem 3
LIB 72 – Thompson 26, Abdel Nour 24, El Khatib F 12, Stephan 5, Sarkis 5, Tabet 0, El Khatib C 0, Akl 0
QS: 21-15, 35-35, 59-55, 79-72

JAPAN over CHINA, 60-50
The young Chinese gave a good effort, but the experience of the Japanese shone through in the endgame as the hosts advanced to the semifinals by defeating their upstart foes. China was unable to capitalize on their rebounding edge as they shot just 32% from the field and were forced to commit 20 turnovers. Kosuke Takeuchi led Japan’s cause with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Ryota Sakurai and Kosuke Kanamaru tallied 13 and 10 markers respectively. JR Sakuragi had another subpar offensive game, but he’ll take it as long as his adopted nation’s team claims victory. Wang Zhelin led China with 15 points and 14 boards, while Guo Ailun and Zhao Tailong each scored 10 markers.

Ryota Sakurai scored 13 markers to
help Japan stay alive.

Wu Ke and the rest of the Chinese struggled
against a very determined home side.

JPN 60 – Takeuchi 18, Sakurai 13, Kanamaru 10, Tanaka 9, Sakuragi 8, Hiejima 2, Furukawa 0, Ichioka 0, Kurihara 0
CHN 50 – Wang ZL 15, Guo 10, Zhao 10, Wang ZR 8, Wu 7, Sui 0, Cao Y 0, Duan 0, Yu 0, Zhang 0, Sun 0
QS: 15-16, 31-25, 44-37, 60-50


Misdirection must be FIBA-Asia Secretary-General Hagop Khajirian’s middle name, or, if it isn’t, it SHOULD be.

Here’s a guy who came to the Philippines to check out the state-of-the-art Mall of Asia Arena. Here’s a guy who told everyone how the competing bids for the hosting rights to the 2013 FIBA-Asia Men’s Championship from Lebanon and Iran weren’t serious. Here’s a guy who basically led us on.

I am full of bitterness, as you can see, but I am damn right to feel bitter. In fact, I URGE every Filipino to feel this bitter. We lost our bid to a country whose best possible representatives to an OFFICIAL and FORMAL FIBA-ASIA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE meeting were four members of its national team in casual clothes.

Red flag? Apparently not for the FIBA-Asia ExeComm.

I guess I would be less bitter if I knew exactly how Lebanon’s rag-tag crew upstaged our all-star cast of basketball executives. Did the aging Fadi El Khatib wax poetic about how this might be his last tour of duty for the Lebanese side? Did he use emotional appeal to explain how his country, which botched their previous chance to hold the Men’s Championship in 2011 (it was moved to Wuhan, China after Lebanon admitted it was ill-prepared to host), was much better suited to host next year?


The guy played a friggin’ CD for the ExeComm to watch.


Slow clap for this guy.

So what happened here? The only country, the only national basketball organizing body, to go to GREAT lengths to impress upon FIBA-Asia its deep level of seriousness and preparedness to hold the biggest and most prestigious basketball event in Asia gets denied.

 A slap in the face.

An unfair deal.

Misdirection at its finest.

Politics trumping integrity.

Doubt cast over transparency.

All because Lebanon’s 33-year old superstar, who waltzed into the room wearing a training shirt, jeans, and sneakers, played a CD.

That must be some CD.

But hold the invectives aimed at Mr. Khajirian. He wasn’t the only one in the ExeComm, after all. According to some sources, five guys voted in favor of Lebanon, two in favor of the Philippines, and two were deemed invalid (for whatever reason). What made FIVE PEOPLE choose El Kahatib’s CD over our powerhouse delegation’s comprehensive presentation?

Was protocol and formality given any weight? Was degree of preparedness? How about plain and simple merit?

It appears not. It appears all those are easily trumped by politics even in the most distinguished body of Asian basketball.


Oh, but wait. It gets better. There’s a clause that says if Lebanon cannot prepare well, then Manila will be the alternate choice.

Why thank, you, FIBA-Asia. Thank you for patronizing us. Thank you for the “oh you’re nice, but we’ll try this one, first” gesture.

Thank you, Hayop, oops, Hagop, for your successful misdirection, for your brilliant crossover move. You juked us one way, only to go the other. What a guy, you are.

How about you play me one-on-one, and I’ll show you what a real crossover looks like, huh?

I am bitter.

I know Manila deserves this, worked the hardest to prove it was ready. THE HARDEST I TELL YOU.

And for what? To be duped.

Now you guys have really pissed us off.

I guess we’ll just have to beat your behinds in your own home turf.

Yeah. That would be EXTRA SWEET.

Wait for it. You’ll get your just deserts.

For another strongly worded piece on this farce, read this Quinito Henson article on

All images are by Milad Payami/
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