TAIPEI CITY, Chinese Taipei (William Jones Cup / 26th FIBA Asia Championship): Hamed Haddadi played the entire 40 minutes, poured in a massive 36 points, collected an impressive 18 rebounds and effected an imposing 7 blocks as Iran completed a three-peat beating Korea 66-59 in the final of the William Jones Cup on Sunday.
Iran powered ahead 20-15 in the first quarter, with Haddadi scoring 11 of them, and never looked back exacting revenge for the 59-77 defeat they had suffered in the Preliminaries here.
Iran, who began the tournament rather shakily and lost two games in the Preliminaries came up with a characteristically strong finish in the last two games including the semifinals against Philippines – the other team they had lost to in the Preliminaries.
Coming as these two back-to-back wins did in the absence of Samad Nikkhah Bahrami, who is back home nursing an injury, and Mahdi Kamrani – who was rested for the whole of the two games – they must have more than satisfied coach Veselin Matic as he plots his ploys for the 26th FIBA Asia Championship at Wuhan.
Iran attempt for a three-peat at Wuhan as they aim to win a second successive Olympic berth.
Oshin Sahakian, one of the underrated heroes who has raised his game whenever the occasion demanded played a similar role on Sunday too with 13 points and 8 rebounds.
With Ha Seung-Jin rendered toothless by Haddadi, Korea relied on veteran Kim Joo-Sung, who led their scoring with 10 points.
Both Ha and Kim fouled out in the fourth quarter, the former’s more than half an hour of stay on court yielding a mere four points. Ha had 8 rebounds.
Jarod Stevenson, playing his first tournament as a Korean national, had 15 points.