#FIBAAsi2015 Quarterfinals Micro-Previews

Only eight remain! Who will make it to the final four and who will fall out of contention? Let’s see!

The following are adapted from the Quarter-Finals Previews on FIBA.com (which I wrote :P).

Can Japan topple mighty Qatar?
Japan’s outlook: Japan have relied heavily on the dynamic duo of Joji Takeuchi and Makoto Hiejima in this tournament, and both are expected to continue spearheading the Nippon quintet’s charge in the Quarter-Finals. Veterans like Yuta Tabuse and Takatoshi Furukawa will need to step up, though, especially against Qatar’s vaunted backcourt. Coach Kenji Hasegawa’s relatively small frontline will be a concern, but if they can step up, Japan have a chance.

Qatar’s outlook: For the most part, Qatar have been carried by former NBA player Trey Johnson, who is this team’s best scorer and playmaker. He will give Japan’s backcourt a lot of problems, but he alone may not be able to win it for Qatar. Mohammed Yousef, Erfan Ali Saeed, and Saad Abdulrahman Ali are among the players expected to give strong support as Qatar hope to advance to the Semi-Finals.

Key Match-Up: Makoto Hiejima has been a revelation for Japan. The The 25-year-old 190cm guard has impressed with his ability to score and make plays for his teammates. On the other end, veteran wingman Saad Abdulrahman Ali has also been solid, reprising his role as one of Qatar’s best outside threats. If Hiejima can put the clamps on Ali, that will be a handicap for Qatar, while Japan’s chances of moving on are heavily dependent on whether Hiejima’s production continues to be at a high level.

A classic-in-the-making as Iran face Korea
Iran’s outlook: Much of Team Melli’s success has been hinged on their team play. Even with the big four of Hamed Haddadi, Oshin Sahakian, Samad Nikkhah Bahrami, and Mahdi Kamrani, no one individual stands out head and shoulders over the rest. Youngsters Mohammad Jamshidi and Mohammad Hassanzadeh have also had their shining moments, and they will need to continue being effective for Iran to prosper. Coach Bauermann’s squad got rattled in the second half against the Philippines, but if they can remain composed against Korea, they should have the upper hand.

Korea’s outlook: Korea looked mighty fine in their first three games, baffling their foes with fluid offense, stingy defense, and sweet shooting. Things were different in the second round, though, where their level of play became inconsistent. This team certainly have the tools to win this game and march deeper into the next phase, but their margin for error is very small. 

Key Match-Up: Point guard play will be highly critical in this encounter. For much of the tournament, Yang Dong-Geun has been the most efficient player out there, and he will need to be at his best against Iran’s highly-touted playmaker, Mahdi Kamrani. Whoever runs his team better and gets his teammates involved more should see his squad move on to the competition’s final four.

China heavily favored against India
China’s outlook: India is a pretty big team, but nobody is bigger than the Chinese, who boast of four players taller than 210cm. Coach Gong Luming’s wards, however, don’t force-feed their big men, but, instead, focus on making sure guys like Yi Jianlian and Zhou Qi are able to get the ball in their sweet spots. The hosts’ guards have been impressive, too, with Guo Ailun growing into his role as the team’s primary playmaker.

India’s outlook: The Indians are fresh from winning two of their last three games, including a big one over West Asian upstart Palestine. Coach Prakash’s wards have certainly shown marked improvement this year, and they have become dark horse threats for the Semi-Finals. Without a doubt, India’s big three of Amjyot Singh, Amrit Pal Singh, and Vishesh Bhriguvanshi will need to be at their very best for the team to even stand a chance of upsetting China.

Key Match-Up: Speaking of Amjyot Singh, his match-up with Zhou Peng should be one to watch here. Both are big, long, and versatile forwards who can attack the basket and shoot from long range. Singh, of course, has put up bigger numbers so far, but don’t put it past Zhou to be able to stand toe to toe opposite the Indians’ star forward.

Passions will ignite as Philippines clash with Lebanon
Philippines’ outlook: The Filipinos are riding high on a five-game winning streak, and they have definitely looked very dangerous after beating Iran and then blowing India out. Andray Blatche, of course, is a match-up nightmare, while guys like Jayson Castro and Terrence Romeo have taken turns schooling opposing teams’ guards. Coach Tab Baldwin’s bench, however, have been a little inconsistent, so that will be a concern.

Lebanon’s outlook: Even without a lot of key players, Lebanon have looked good. Losing to Korea and China in the second round didn’t help, but getting the critical victory over Jordan on day six should enable coach Veselin Matic’s wards to regain a lot of confidence. Jay Youngblood is the one to watch, but three-point specialist Amir Saoud and big man Ali Haidar cannot be overlooked.

Key Match-Up: Jayson Castro is expected to put up big numbers in this game, and it will be up to up-and-coming point guard Wael Arakji to try and stop him. Arakji has the edge in size, but Castro’s quickness and savvy should make the youngster really put in a lot of work. If Castro get his game going the way he did against Iran, the Philippines have a very good chance to go through.




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