Days 7 & 8 of the 2012 FIBA Asia Cup

Oshin Sahakian and the Iranians rose above the
competition to win their first FIBA Asia Cup. 

Iran became the second team to qualify outright to the 2013 FIBA-Asia Men’s Championships in Beirut after narrowly beating Japan in the Finals. The Iranians joined 2013 host country Lebanon as the first two squads with automatic berths in the continent’s sole qualifying tournament for the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

Meanwhile, these last two days have broken the hearts of the Filipinos, who ended their Tokyo campaign with consecutive losses to Iran in the semifinals and Qatar in the battle for third place. Nevertheless, as far as I know, by finishing in the top four, the Pinoys, along with Qatar, Japan, and Iran, have earned extra 2013 berths for their respective subzones.

This means that aside from Iran and Lebanon, WABA will have three more teams in next year’s tourney. The Gulf, EABA, and SEABA subzones will send three teams each, while the SABA and CABA subzones will send one each.

Day 7:
Iran pulled away from the Philippines in the fourth quarter to barge into the Finals and avenge an earlier loss in the 2012 Jones Cup. Hamed Afagh led the way with 14 points, while Mohammad Jamshidi and Asghar Kardoust each scored 13. Oshin Sahakian added a dozen markers, forming a formidable frontline combo with Kardoust that put the Pinoy big men in perennial foul trouble. Sahakian and Kardoust, both of whom usually play behind Hamed Haddadi and Arsalan Kazemi , stepped up big for Coach Memi Becirovic. They limited Team Pilipinas’s Marcus Douthit to just 11 points and 7 rebounds. Coach Chot Reyes once again rued his team’s woeful outside shooting as a big culprit in this defeat.

Jared Dillinger goes up strong against Iran's interior D.

Marcus Douthit struggled with foul
trouble against the tall Iranians.

Samad Nikkhah Bahrami came up big in
the second half to down the Philippines.

IRI 77 – Afagh 14, Jamshidi 13, Kardoust 13, Sahakian 12, Bahrami 12, Davoudi 6, Arghavan 6, Foroutan 1, Aslani 0, Yakhchali 0
PHI 60 – Tenorio 13, Dillinger 13, Douthit 11, Chan 5, Fonacier 5, De Ocampo 4, Norwood 4, Villanueva 3, David 2, Reyes 0, Thoss 0, Ganuelas 0
QS: 16-17, 30-30, 53-47, 77-60

JAPAN over QATAR, 73-66
The home squad bucked a slow start, took the lead in the second quarter, and never looked back as they re-entered the Finals of the FIBA Asia Cup (Japan was also a Finalist in 2010, when this tourney was still called the Stankovic Cup). Kosuke Takeuchi led Japan with 18 points and 9 rebounds, while Takatoshi Furukawa had his best shooting day of the whole competition, hitting the mark for 15 big points. Mohd Yousuf Mohammed led Qatar with 22 points, while Erfan Ali Saeed tallied 15 markers and 13 boards. Trey Johnson shot just 2-of-14 from the field for Coach Tom Wisman.

Kosuke Kanamaru flashes his trademark
shooting form.

Kosuke Takeuchi stepped up big time as
Japan entered the Finals.

Qatar and Japan fought tooth-and-nail
for the last Finals ticket.

JPN 73 – Takeuchi 18, Furukawa 15, Sakuragi 12, Hiejima 11, Sakurai 6, Kanamaru 6, Tanaka 5, Hinkley 0, Ota 0, Kurihara 0
QAT 66 – Mohammed M 22, Saeed 15, Johnson 10, Salem 14, Daoud 3, El Hadary 2, Mohamed 0, Abdi 0, Mohammed B 0, Zaidan 0
QS: 9-12, 30-19, 51-39, 73-66

The Taiwanese easily bested the Uzbeks, with five of Coach Hsu Chin-Che’s wards scoring in twin digits. Small guys Chen Shih-Chieh and Lee Hsueh-Lin led the way with 13 and 12 points respectively. Uzbekistan actually had more rebounds, but they allowed the Taiwanese to shoot 51% from the floor. Lu Cheng-Ju, Tien Lei and Tseng Wen-Ting each scored 10 markers. Aleksandr Kozlov almost finished with a double-double for Coach Oleg Levin, scoring 21 points and grabbing 9 boards.

Jet Chang evades the defense of Uzbekistan.

TPE 86 – Chen SC 13, Lee 12, Tseng 10, Lu 10, Tien 10, Lin 9, Wu 6, Creighton 6, Chen HA 5, Su 4, Mao 1, Chang 0
UZB 70 – Kozlov 21, Denisov 11, Nuraliev 6, Safarov 6, Kadirov 6, Tangrikulov 5, Shatrov 5, Juginisov 4, Yahon 4, Nabiev 2, Timofeev 0, Rahimov 0
QS: 30-18, 47-33, 66-53, 86-70

CHINA over LEBANON, 78-63
The young Chinese didn’t encounter much resistance from a listless Lebanese side in the consolation round. Despite Fadi El Khatib scoring 34 points, it was clear that Lebanon had other things in their minds (hosting the 2013 FIBA-Asia perhaps?), and that they didn’t really play to win. Still, that’s not to take anything away from the Chinese, who dominated from start to finish. Zhao Tailong hit 5 triples to lead China with 27 points, while Duan Jiangpeng hit 3 treys of his own to tally 15 markers. Wang Zhelin held his own underneath with 14 points and 9 boards.

Guo Ailun helped China take vengeance on Lebanon.

CHN 78 – Zhao 27, Duan 15, Wang ZL 14, Guo 11, Zhang 6, Yu 4, Wang ZR 1, Sui 0, Cao F 0, Cao Y 0, Wu 0
LIB 63 – El Khatib F 34, Thompson 7, Akl 6, Rustom 5, Abdel Nour 5, Tabet 4, El Khatibn C 2, Stephan 0, Sarkis 0
QS: 23-11, 45-31, 65-51, 78-63

Day 8:
IRAN over JAPAN, 53-51
Iran withstood Japan’s torrid shooting in the third quarter to come back strong in the dying minutes and win the 2012 FIBA Asia Cup. Samad Nikkhah Bahrami struggled from the floor again, but he made a big play inside the final minute by finding Aren Davoudi wide open for the game-winning three-point jumper from the left wing. Davoudi, who’s really known as the second-string playmaker to veteran starter Mehdi Kamrani, actually misfired on his first three attempts from beyond the arc, but he made the one that counted the most. Despite shooting just 6-of-15 from the floor, Bahrami still led Iran with 14 points. The Japanese also made life difficult for him by forcing him to commit 7 of his team’s 16 turnovers. Needless to say, this was a momentous win for the WABA powerhouse, since they did it without many of their top guns (the aforementioned Haddadi, Kazemi, and Kamrani).

Japan doesn’t have anything to be ashamed of, however, as they played splendidly, especially in the third period, where they outscored Iran, 21-10, thanks mainly to the hot shooting of Panasonic Trian guard Kosuke Kanamaru. Kanamaru cooled off in the payoff period, but Takatoshi Furukawa came through, hitting what appeared to be the marginal three-pointer with a little over a minute to go. A few moments after, it was Davoudi who finally pegged the final count.

Iran’s Bahrami, Hamed Afagh, and Asghar Kardoust joined Japan’s Kosuke Takeuchi and Ryota Sakurai in the tournament’s All-Star/Mythical Five Selection. Bahrami was named overall Most Valuable Player.

Samad Nikkhah Bahrami was named MVP
after Iran won the FIBA Asia Cup.

Kosuke Takeuchi and the Japanese lost the
title to Oshin Sahakian and the tough Iranians.

IRI 53 – Bahrami 14, Jamshidi 8, Afagh 8, Kardoust 8, Davoudi 5, Sahakian 4, Arghavan 4, Aslani 2, Foroutan 0
JPN 51 – Kanamaru 16, Sakuragi 10, Furukawa 6, Tanaka 5, Sakurai 5, Takeuchi 4, Hiejima 2, Ota 2, Watanabe 1, Hinkley 0
QS: 13-11, 30-23, 40-44, 53-51

Coach Tom Wisman was able to extract some semblance of old school magic and mix it with the balanced game of Trey Johnson to lead Qatar’s bronze medal conquest over the disheartened Philippine team. Coach Chot Reyes’s wards have struggled with their outside shot during the whole tournament, and things were really bad here as the Pinoys converted just 2 of their 11 three-point attempts and just 37% overall from the field. The outside shooting that was so reliable in their Jones Cup title run was absent this time even as Qatar continuously punctured the hoop from all angles. Mohd Yousuf Mohammed led the Gulf team with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 4 triples, while Johnson and up-and-comer Khalid Abdi scored 16 and 14 respectively. The Filipinos were led by Marcus Douthit’s injury-plagued double-double performance – 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Jeff Chan continued to struggle with his
shot until the last day.

Saad Abdulrahman gets open close to the basket.

QAT 79 – Mohammed M 17, Johnson 16, Abdi 14, Saeed 10, Daoud 7, Salem 5, El Hadary 4, Mohammed B 4, Ali 2
PHI 63 – Douthit 17, David 15, Dillinger 12, Norwood 10, De Ocampo 4, Fonacier 3, Tenorio 2, Thoss 0, Chan 0, Villanueva 0
QS: 12-8, 35-26, 55-48, 79-63

CHINA over TAIWAN, 67-63
The 2016 Olympic hopefuls of China ended their learning campaign on a high note, beating their cross-strait rivals to finish at fifth place. Wang Zhelin produced another double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds. He’s slowly but surely morphing into the next dominant big man in Chinese hoops, and it’ll be exciting to see how well he takes the place of Wang Zhizhi in the senior NT. Zhao Tailong capped off a great tournament by scoring 14 points, while fellow wingman Duan Jiangpeng poured in 11 markers. Lin Chih-Chieh, who plays for the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions in the Chinese Basketball Association, scored a team-high 20 points to lead the Taiwanese.

Tseng Wen-Ting and the Taiwanese weren't
able to overhaul the taller Chinese.

CHN 67 – Wang ZL 20, Zhao 14, Duan 11, Wang ZR 6, Zhang 5, Guo 3, Sui 2, Cao Y 2, Yu 2, Wu 2
TPE 63 – Lin 20, Tseng 12, Mao 10, Wu 9, Tien 4, Lee 3, Lu 3, Chen SC 2, Creighton 0
QS: 18-16, 29-24, 49-47, 67-63

Lebanon rebounded from two straight defeats to beat down the Uzbeks for 7th place. Fadi El Khatib further added to his legend, scoring 44 points on 15-of-23 shooting, while playing with no relief. He also collared 7 caroms and had 6 dimes to cap off an all-around effort. He was ably supported by the combined 25 markers of Elie Stephan and Elias Rustom, while seldom-used Nadim Hawe took care of the inside chores with 9 rebounds.

Fadi El Khatib fought his way to 44 big points.

LIB 84 – El Khatib F 44, Stephan 14, Rustom 11, Tabet 4, Sarkis 4, Souaid 4, Hawe 3, El Khatib C 0, Akl 0
UZB 73 – Kozlov 24, Juginisov 17, Yahin 8, Kadirov 8, Safarov 4, Tangrikulov 3, Denisov 3, Nuraliev 2, Nabiev 2, Timofeev 2, Shatrov 0
QS: 28-15, 49-31, 67-48, 84-73

All images are by Milad Payami/
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