Host squad Japan found themselves up by four points in the finals of the FIBA Asia Cup held yesterday in Tokyo, Japan, with a minute and a half left in the game, only to see that lead erased on two different types of three-point plays. Iran ran the table in the competition going undefeated in the qualifying round and then knocking out three more wins to enable them to hoist the championship trophy and earn a spot in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships for Men, a qualifier for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Iran got out to a comfortable 30-13 advantage by the intermission, but the margin had gotten as high as 12 with 3:06 to play in the half and then Japan tallied the last five points in the half to cut the margin almost in half.
The third quarter saw the hosts take the game until control, outscoring Iran 21-10 and building a slim four-point advantage. Iran didn’t score for the first four and a half minutes of the third quarter, but one of the most important baskets of the game came with two seconds left in the frame when eventual tournament MVP, Samed Bahrami, sank a jumper with two seconds left in the quarter to cut the Japanese lead to four.
Japan hit a scoring drought for the first four minutes of the forth period and between turnovers and missed shots, they went from four up to one point down. Moments later Japan retook the lead, putting the score at 46-45 with 5:55 to play in the Championship. The scoreboard read the same almost two minutes later when Takatoshi Furakawa stretched Japan’s advantage to three. Bahrami dropped in a deuce to cut the lead to one, then Furakawa tallied a triple to put Japan up by four with 1:25 to burn off. Iran’s Asghar Kardoustpoustinsaraei dropped in a floater, got fouled and nailed the charity toss to whittle the Japanese advantage from four to one point with 42 clicks to play.
Aren Davoudichegani then hit what will most likely be one of the most memorable shots of his career when he sank a three-pointer with 18.5 seconds on the clock to put Iran up by two, 53-51, and give the visitors the FIBA Asia Cup title.
Bahrami led the Iranian scorers with 14, and Mohammad Jafarabadi and Hamed Eslamieh added eight each to the winning tally. Japan got 16 from Kosuke Kanamaru, and 10 from Jr Sakuragi.
FIBA Asia Cup All-Tournament Team:
Most Valuable Player (and small forward) – Samad Bahrami – Iran
Point Guard – Ryota Sakurai – Japan
Shooting Guard – Hamed Afagh – Iran
Power Forward – Kosuke Takeuchi – Japan
Center – Asghar Kardoust – Iran
Results from the other games held Saturday:
7/8th Place game
Lebanon – Uzbekistan 84-73
5/6th Place game
China – Chinese Taipei 67-63
3/4th Place game
Qatar – Philippines 79-63