Days 1 & 2 of the 2012 FIBA Asia Cup

LA Tenorio continues to play big for the
Philippine NT in the FIBA Asia Cup.

The Philippines dropped a heartbreaker against a young Chinese team on Day 1, but bounced back strong by beating Lebanon on Day 2 of competition at the 2012 FIBA Asia Cup in Ota City, Japan.

After two days, Japan is the only team with a 2-0 record, while both Iran and China sat out Day 2 after opening their campaigns with separate wins on Day 1.

Day 1:

IRAN over INDIA, 83-71
SABA Champion India played well beyond expectations as WABA powerhouse Iran missed some of its key players in the first game of the tournament. The Iranians of Coach Memi Becirovic couldn’t completely shake off their Indian foes till the fourth quarter, where Iran finally erected and held on to a double-digit lead. Not surprisingly, veterans Samad Nikkhah Bahrami, Hamed Afagh, and Asghar Kardoust led the way for Iran, combining for 51 points. Oshin Sahakian held the fort down low with 11 rebounds and 5 steals. India was led by Vishesh Bhriguvanshi’s 21 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals, while Amritpal Singh contributed 15 markers and 7 boards. Youngsters Amir Sedighi, Sajjad Mashayekhi, and Saleh Foroutan missed this game because they were still trying to get their visas in order.

Samad Nikkhah Bahrami carried Iran
past India on Day 1.

IRI 83 – Bahrami 23, Afagh 16, Kardoust 12, Davoudi 10, Jamshidi 9, Arghavan 9, Sahakian 4, Aslani 0, Yakhchali 0
IND 71 – Bhriguvanshi 21, Singh Al 15, Singh J 12, Pethani 11, Grewal 6, Singh At 2, Singh L 2, Singh Y 2, Kaushik 0, Philip 0, Brar 0, Singh R 0
QS: 23-17, 40-37, 64-58, 83-71

JAPAN over QATAR, 73-69
Host Japan went to work early and had to withstand a furious endgame rally by the retooled Qatari quintet to post their maiden win on Day 1. With his twin brother Joji out of commission due to an ankle injury, Kosuke Takeuchi was the focal point on offense. The Toyota Alvark big man scored 14 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, and blocked 1 shot for Coach Kimika Suzuki’s Hayabusa. He was backstopped by the sniping of Kosuke Kanamaru and Takatoshi Furukawa, who shot 2 triples each. 36-year old JR Sakuragi also added muscle up front with 13 markers, 9 boards, and 2 rejections. Qatar, meanwhile, was led by the combined 34 points of veterans Erfan Ali Saeed and Yaseen Musa.

*Aside from Joji Takeuchi, Japan is missing NT mainstays Takuya Kawamura and Takumi Ishizaki, while Sean HInkley, the Jap-Am forward, changed his name to Sean Ichioka. Qatar’s supposed naturalized player, Trey Johnson, also didn’t play. He was also absent in the team photo, which might mean he won’t see action at all, or he’s still fixing his papers.

Kosuke Kanamaru is a young and dangerous
bomber from Japan.

JPN 73 – Takeuchi 14, Kanamaru 14, Sakuragi 13, Furukawa 10, Kurihara 9, Tanaka 8, Sakurai 3, Hiejima 2, Ichioka 0, Watanabe 0
QAT 69 – Saeed 21, Musa 13, Salem 10, Daoud 8, El Hadary 6, Mohammed M 6, Abdi 5, Ali 0, Mohamed 0
QS: 24-15, 41-36, 61-50, 73-69

LEBANON over MACAU, 120-51
Lebanon started its campaign by emphatically romping past the hapless Macau squad. The WABA powerhouse team was never threatened in this one, with Elie Stephan hitting 6 threes to finish with a game-high 24 points. Iconic star Fadi El-Khatib returned to continental play with aplomb, too, scoring 22 points in just over 20 minutes of play. With the exception of PG Rodrigue Akl, everyone on the Lebanese team scored at least 5 points. As expected. Macau struggled mightily against their taller and more experience foes, with Lo Hip Meng's 14 points leading Coach Li Jin’s team.

Fadi El-Khatib dominated the Macanese.

LIB 120 – Stephan 24, El Khatib F 22, Rustom 15, Abdel Nour 11, Tabet 10, Hawe 9, El Khatib C 7, Souaid 7, Martinez 5, Thompson 5, Sarkis 5, Akl 0
MAC 51 – Lo 14, Lao FI 12, Cai 11, Lai 8, Iong KK 2, Cheong 2, Iong NS 2, Wong 0, Lao CP 0
QS: 17-32, 25-62, 33-92, 51-120

Coach Fan Bin gambled on letting foul-plagued starting center Wang Zhelin play in the fourth quarter, but it paid off as China erased a late 8-point deficit to thwart the Filipinos on Day 1. Panathinaikos prospect Guo Ailun led the way for the hulking Chinese with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting. The 18-year old star-in-the-making used a variety of dribble drives to make a beeline to the basket in the final frame. Zhao Tailong also did well with 11 markers, while Zhelin collared 14 caroms in all. Naturalized Pinoy Marcus Douthit struggled to get his shots and finished with just 10 points on 3-of-5 FG shooting. What’s worse, however, was the Philippines missing 10 free throws throughout the game. This was a strong aspect of their game in the recent Jones Cup, and they would do well to rediscover their free throw accuracy.

Guo Ailun goes up strong against Team Pilipinas.

CHN 71 – Guo 18, Zhao 11, Sui 7, Wu 7, Duan 6, Wang ZL 6, Sun 6, Cao Y 4, Yu 3, Zhang 3, Wang ZR 0, Cao F 0
PHI 68 – De Ocampo 11, Douthit 10, Fonacier 10, Norwood 9, Tenorio 8, Dillinger 8, David 7, Chan 5, Reyes 0, Thoss 0, Villanueva 0
QS: 18-15, 40-33, 54-56, 71-68

Day 2:

QATAR over INDIA, 84-63
Qatar bottled up Indian scorer Vishesh Bhriguvanshi to just 4-of-13 shooting and utilized a great third quarter scoring binge to bump up their record to 1-1 after their opening day loss to the hosts. Big men Mohd Yousuf Mohammed and Omar Salem combined for 25 points and 19 rebounds to dominate the interior, while Daoud Daoud and Yaseen Musa each poured in a dozen markers for the Gulf powerhouse. Narender Grewal and Rikin Pethani led India with 14 points each, while Amritpal Singh grabbed 12 rebounds on top of his 9 markers.

Yaseen Musa rises over the Indians on Day 2.

QAT 84 – Mohammed M 13, Daoud 12, Musa 12, Salem 12, Mohamed 9, Mohammed B 8, Saeed 6, Zaidan 6, Abdi 4, Ali 0
IND 63 – Grewal 14, Pethani 14, Bhriguvanshi 9, Singh Al 9, Singh J 9, Singh At 4, Singh Y 4, Philip 0
QS: 15-6, 31-25, 58-44, 84-63

JAPAN over TAIWAN, 90-78
JR Sakuragi went to town underneath the hole, the Japanese guards hit their treys, and Team Hayabusa basically ran roughshod over their EABA rivals to post win number 2 in Group B action. Coach Kimikazu Suzuki’s crew converted 56% of their field goals on their way to the big win. Sakuragi, who plays for the Aisin Seahorses of coach Suzuki, scored 19 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 5 assists in a brilliant all-around performance. Kosuke Takeuchi was also solid with 15 markers and 5 boards, while Takatoshi Furukawa and Kosuke Kanamaru remained accurate from long distance. Tien Lei and Tseng Wen-Ting were the bright spots for Taiwan with 19 and 15 points respectively.

Hironori Watanabe and the Japanese pulverized
the Taiwanese in Group B action.

JPN 90 – Sakuragi 19, Furukawa 16, Takeuchi 15, Kanamau 10, Tanaka 8, Kurihara 7, Watanabe 7, Sakurai 4, Ichioka 2, Ota 2, Hiejima 0, Nagayoshi 0
TPE 78 – Tien 19, Tseng 15, Lee 10, Wu 9, Lin 8, Chang 7, Chen SC 4, Chen HA 4, Lu 2, Mao 0, Creighton 0
QS: 27-14, 53-34, 74-56, 90-78

The Uzbeks trailed at the half, but unloaded 26 points on the Macau five in the third period to break the game wide open. The CABA squad also limited the lowly Macanese to just 8 points in that stanza to underscore their dominance. Veteran Aleksandr Kozlov led the way with 24 points and 15 rebounds for Coach Oleg Levin, while Vyacheslav Denisov and Aleksandr Yahin scored 19 and 14 respectively. Lao Fu In led Macau with 21 points on the strength of 4 treys, while Cai Shao bing had 10 markers. This is Uzbekistan’s first tournament win before they tackle a tough three-game sked to end the eliminations.

Samender Juginisov proved to be a big
headache for Macau.

UZB 81 – Kozlov 24, Denizov 19, Yahin 14, Juginisov 9, Nabiev 5, Nuraliev 4, Rahimov 2, Kadirov 2, Tangrikulov 1, Denisov 1, Timofeev 0, Safarov 0
MAC 61– Lao FI 21, Cai 10, Iong KK 8, Cheong 8, Lai 6, Wong 3, Lo 3, Lao CP 2, Iong NS 0
QS: 14-11, 26-27, 52-35, 81-61

The Filipinos outscored the Lebanese 21-12 in the third period and played keep-away till the end to post their first win in Group A action. Marcus Douthit rebounded from a dismal showing against China by scoring 25 points and grabbing 21 rebounds to lead Team Pilipinas past the team that inflicted their only loss in the Jones Cup. The Pinoys also shot much better from the line here, making 10 of their 15 attempts. LA Tenorio, Gabe Norwood, Jared Dillinger, and Gary David all scored in twin digits to backstop Douthit’s stellar performance. As usual, Fadi El-Khatib was the brightest star for Lebanon with 24 points and 15 boards, while Garnett Thompson also shone with 17 markers and 11 rebounds.

Marcus Douthit unleashed one of his best games
so far versus the Lebanese.

PHI 78 – Douthit 25, Tenorio 11, David 11, Norwood 10, Dillinger 10, De Ocampo 8, Fonacier 3, Thoss 0, Chan 0
LIB 68 – El Khatib F 24, Thompson 17, Akl 10, Abdel Nour 8, El Khatib C 4, Sarkis 3, Stephan 2, Tabet 0, Rustom 0
QS: 19-20, 38-41, 59-53, 78-68

All images are by Milad Payami/
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