2014 Asian Games Basketball Roundup: Day Eight

Day Eight saw Philippine hearts beak anew amidst another second half collapse in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. After leading for most of the game, the Pinoys couldn’t finish off the Koreans and suffered their third loss in a row. Hope floats, however, as the Kazakhs upset Qatar in the next game to complicate matters in Group H. Meanwhile in Group G, another upset happened as Japan beat China while Iran manhandled Mongolia.

Yang Hee-Jong, Cho Sung-Min, and Moon Tae-Jong celebrate after
completing a comeback against Gilas Pilipinas.
(image from Jumpball.co.kr)

Game recaps:
IRAN over MONGOLIA, 107-69
Mongolia gave Iran a stiff challenge in the first quarter, but Team Melli turned on the jets and proceeded to pound the Mongolians to submission the rest of the way. Once again, coach Memi Becirovic rested his prized scorer Samad Nikkhah Bahrami in preparation, no doubt, for their last three games. His heir apparent, Mohammad Jamshidi, however, stepped up with 20 points, while veterans Asghar Kardoust and Hamed Afagh chipped in 19 and 18 markers respectively. Iran shot 63% from the field while limiting Mongolia to just 36%. Mongolia’s power pair, Sanchir Tungalag and Bilguun Battuvshin, played a total of only 4 minutes and had 0 points. Uuganbayar Oyuntsetseg, Munkhbold Bataa, and Otgonmunkh Munkhtur each scored 13 points for the losing side. Iran is assured of a semis berth, but it needs a win over China tomorrow to secure top spot. Mongolia’s chances of advancing are hinged on blowing out Japan tomorrow and China losing to Iran.

Ouch. For the third straight game, Gilas Pilipinas hung tough only to come up short in the end. Gilas led by as many as 16 points in the second half, but the hot shooting of Moon Tae-Jong, Yang Hee-Jong, Cho Sung-Min, and Kim Tae-Sul enabled the home team to rally and pull the rug from under coach Chot Reyes’s wards. Both teams actually shot very well from the field (a combined 52%) and from three-point range (a combined 30 triples on 55% shooting). There were only 16 turnovers combined, too, all of which indicate that this was a very well-played basketball game. It’s a pity, though, that the Pinoys had to be the ones with the short end of the stick when the dust settled. Moon, the oldest guy in the game at 38 years old, caught fire early, scoring 21 of his 38 points in the first half to keep Korea abreast of the hot-shooting Filipinos. He was backstopped by guards Cho Sung-Min and Kim Tae-Sul, who dropped 17 and 16 markers each. The returning Oh Se-Keun also played solidly, notching 10 points on top of 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. Veteran swingman Yang Hee-Jong also came up huge for Korea, hitting all 10 of his points in the second half to spark the hosts’ fightback. Gilas, meanwhile, leaned on the combined 13 treys of Jimmy Alapag, Jeff Chan, and LA Tenorio. Jimmy and LA did a swell job quarterbacking, scoring a total of 45 points and getting 7 assists, while Chan registered 16 markers. June Mar Fajardo also impressed in his first start of the competition, putting up a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double. Korea is certain to make the semis, but they’ll need to beat Qatar to lock in first place in the group. Gilas is still alive, but they’ll need to beat Kazakhstan by 11 tomorrow and hope Korea defeats Qatar to crash the semifinal party.

June Mar Fajardo battles Lee Jong-Hyun for the board.
(image by Bay Ismoyo/AFP)

Oh Se-Keun and Marc Pingris jostle for position.
(image from Jumpball.co.kr)

Yang Hee-Jong rifles in a three in the second half.
(image from Jumpball.co.kr)

JAPAN over CHINA, 79-72
Coach Gong Luming’s wards led by 9 at the break and looked headed to a comfortable win, but coach Kenji Hasegawa’s boys didn’t quit and utilized great perimeter shooting in the second half to win. Japan shot 40% from beyond the arc and 94% from the line to erase the deficit and proceed to complete the comeback. Makoto Hiejima was almost flawless in this game, hitting all ten of his FGs and all but one of his FTs to come away with a game-high 23 points. Big man Joji Takeuchi played with no relief and ended up with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while snipers Kosuke Kanamaru and Naoto Tsuji combined for 4 treys and 26 markers. This win gave the Japanese the inside track to the semifinals and second place in the group. A win over Mongolia and a loss by China all but ensures their moving on to the medal round of the tourney. China, meanwhile, squandered a golden opportunity to secure a semis seat and gain momentum heading into an all-important match against Iran tomorrow. Only Ding Yanyuhang and Zhou Peng scored in double-figures here with 14 points each. Big man Wang Zhelin played just 7 minutes, while Zhou Qi and Li Xiaoxu paired up for only 9 markers. The Chinese need to beat Iran tomorrow and hope Monglia upsets Japan to ensure that they advance. A China win and a Japan loss will even give coach Gong’s squad first place heading into the semifinals.

Japan celebrates after rallying to beat China.
(image from the JBA)

The Kazakhs sprung a big surprise in upending the erstwhile undefeated Qataris. Coach Vitaly Strebkov’s wards utilized their size advantage to the hilt, outrebounding Qatar, 50-36, and limiting the starting frontline of Mohammed Yousef and Erfan Ali Saeed to just 5 points in 50 minutes. Star scorer Khalid Suliman Abdi also didn’t play here as he seemed to be nursing a leg injury he sustained in last night’s game against Gilas. The dynamic duo that did so much damage in the qualifying round, Dmitriy Gavrilov and Anatoliy Kolesnikov, played well here. Gavrilov tallied 22 points, 9 rebounds, and shot 10/13 from the floor, while Kolesnikov and Anton Ponomarev each notched double-doubles. The half-Aussie Kolesnikov had 17 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals, and shot 3/3 from beyond the arc, while Ponomarev added 13 points and 13 boards. Daoud Musa Daoud and Hassan Mohamed led the Qataris with 16 and 14 markers respectively. A win by Kazakhstan over the Philippines tomorrow, coupled with a Korea victory, means coach Strebkov’s wards advance to the semis. In contrast, Qatar needs to win against Korea to keep their semis hopes alive.

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