FIBA Asia: China gets much needed win

China

Group F

China vs. Kazakhstan, 73:67

In the second stage of the ongoing men’s FIBA Asia Championship being held in Manila, Philippines; the Chinese National Team was able to bounce back after suffering two losses during the preliminary round. It wasn’t an easy task for China as they faced a formidable foe in the undefeated national squad from Kazakhstan. This was almost a must-win situation for the Asian powerhouse as the records from the preliminary rounds were getting carried over into this second stage. China would have found itself in an unprecedented situation of being at risk of an early exit from the tournament they’ve been famous for regularly dominating.

China looked to be in control of the contest from the early going, but Kazakhstan overcame China’s lead in the third quarter and suddenly the game became too close for comfort. In the end, China held its composure in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter to keep its lead and their opponents at bay to seal the victory. China was led by Peng Zhou (210 cm) who came away with 17 points and 9 rebounds. China played their third straight game without star big man Yi Jianlian (212 cm) who is still being rested for the later stages of the competition.

Naturalized Kazakhstani player, Jerry Johnson (182 cm, Rider’05) has been key to the team’s early success, calling the plays and dictating the tempo. He finished the game with 13 points and six assists.

At this point, only three teams are left undefeated in the competition. They are Iran, Taiwan and Qatar.

Iran vs. India, 102:58

It seems like this is going to be a regular story throughout this tournament. Yet again, the Iranian team has steamrolled its way passed another hapless team. This time, India was their scheduled victim. They are heavy favorites to win the gold medal this year, but with a total of three invites up for grabs to the World Championships in 2014, to be awarded to the top three finishers, competition is fierce at all levels right now.

Iran played it prudent by limiting the minutes of their star big man Hamed Haddadi (218 cm) to only 16 in this easy win. Hamed Afagh stepped up and took up the slack with his 16 points, majority of which came from downtown as he made four of his seven attempts from behind the arc.

South Korea vs. Bahrain 96:51

South Korea reinforced it’s position as one of the contenders in the tournament via an easy win over Bahrain. Their only loss so far is to tournament leader Iran during the preliminary round. After an early 18:15 lead, the Koreans snowballed their momentum with rallies and expanded the deficit. Bahrain was blown away and sunk deeper and deeper with the passing of every quarter. They came at Bahrain with a balanced attack, seeing six of their players score in double figures.

South Korea was led by Tae-Sool Kim (180 cm) who 17 points, seven assists and four steals. Bahrain, meanwhile, only had Ahmed Ismaeel score in double digits with 19 points.

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Group E

Taiwan vs. Hong Kong, 94:55

The rest of the tournament competitors are now officially on notice. Taiwan means business and they’ve come for Gold. They cruised to an easy win over Hong Kong and are sitting pretty atop of the Group E standings. With their 3-0 record, they are poised to slide through this second stage quite easily.

Taiwan has shown that good three-point shooting and being active on the glass is a powerful combination. One of their keys to success thus far has been Chih-Chieh Lin (192 cm), who recorded the tournament’s first triple-double performance the other day. Taiwan, seeing no threat from the Hong Kong opponents, gave Lin a lighter load in this game but he still finished with six points and six assists. It was Lin’s reserve, Shih-Chieh Chen (176 cm) who carried the team’s scoring duties with 13 points in the contest.

Qatar vs. Jordan, 75:61

The Jordanian team, the silver medalists in the last FIBA Asia Championships, are now officially in “hot water,” as they now are in a hole three losses deep. They were favored to beat their opponents easily, but the Qatari team clearly had other plans. Jordan now needs an almost perfect run from here on out if they want a spot at the podium come tournament’s end.

Qatar took the game in the final quarter via a 14-9 rally. Up until that point, the game could have swung either way. Jordan could not hang on and mount enough offense to keep up with Qatar and let the game slip through their fingers. Mouhammad Hadrab’s (203 cm) 16 points and Wesam Al-Sous’ (189 cm) 14 points were not enough to carry the Jordanians passed the now seemingly formidable Qatar team.

Qatar has shown consistency thus far and is one of the last undefeated teams remaining in the competition. A key to their victory was former NBA player and naturalized Qatar player Jarvis Hayes (201 cm, Georgia’03), who led four other players in double figures with his 15 points.

Philippines vs. Japan, 90:71

The host nation, Philippines bounced back from their disappointing loss to Taiwan at the end of the preliminary round with a dominant victory over the Japanese team. The Philippine squad out-shot, out-muscled and out-hustled their Japanese counterparts in the second half of the game. The win keeps the Philippines’ hopes alive to make it to one of those top three spots. The last time they hosted this event, in  1973,  the Philippines came away with the Gold medal.

Japan had only two players who scored in double digits, naturalized American-Japanese player J.R. Sakuragi (206 cm, UCLA’98) came away with 19 points and main scorer Kosuke Takeuchi (206 cm) added 17 points of his own.

The Philippines were led by naturalized Filipino-American Marcus Douthit (210 cm, Providence’04) who scored 19 and the team’s main sharpshooter Jeffrei Chan (192 cm) who finished with 16 points thanks to 4-5 shooting from three-point range.

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